Poems by Beatrice M. Murphy (1908-1992)

Originally published in "The Rocks Cry Out," Broadside Press, 1969

To Any Negro Youth
Pledge of Allegiance
Even Among Thieves
We Are Not Alone
Deadlines For Miracles
Negro Choir



I am the Uncle Tom
At whom you scoff and sneer.
I believe in America;
In God; in Truth;
In the fundamental decency
Of humanity;
Even in wild, undisciplined
Youth like you.

You say my time is passed.
Now I should step aside
And let you lead the way. WHERE?
To shipwreck on the sea of violence?
To death upon the sword of hate?

I am not loath to relinquish;
For I am weary and battle scarred.
I have fought many wars in my time—
Not with your weapons, surely,
But with mine. And I won what
You would call minor victories.
Not until you live more years and
Acquire deeper wisdom will you know
They paved and pointed the way
You are now impatient to go.
Scoff if you will, but my blood
Colored the road you want to travel;
And before I pass the torch to you
There's something I MUST say:

If you are going to speak for ME
First, Cleanse your mouth.
Spouting foul and four letter words
Over and over and over
Denotes not strength, but a drought
In your vocabulary.

If you are going to lead MY PEOPLE
Make sure to be the kind of leader
Who leads with dignity today
Toward a proud and better tomorrow;
Not one who dares not look behind
At wreckage left along the way—
Human wreckage that will haunt
Your future victories.

If you are going to fight MY battles,
Then remember well His words.
For though you feel you must deny Him
His voice still echoes down the wind
sreaming to be heard:




I will walk all day with you
Down the road to freedom.
I will sing the songs of victory,
And chant the hymns of pain.
I will give my paltry widow's mite
To help my people obtain
The debt America owes them.

I will bare my body to the bullwhip
And accept whatever fate
Awaits the black man in his fight
For equality and freedom.
I will do anything in the world
You ask of me — but one:




Mine is no Southern tradition.
I have never seen cotton fields
Gleaming whitely in the sun;
Or the look on the face of a Negro
In a frantic, desperate run
Before a frenzied mob.
I have never known the necessity
Of saying "Mr." to a man
Who wouldn't say "Mrs." to me.

All I know of the South
Is what I've been told;
And the telling has filled
My veins with brackish hate
And made my blood run cold.

Mine is no Southern tradition.
There is no secret yearning
Welling up in me to go back
To Dixie and live amid the smell
Of magnolias — magnolias
Mixed with blood.
I'd rather live in Hell!



I could forgive you
If you say you hate us;
That the sight of black skin
Fills you with revulsion;—
I could even respect you
For your honesty.

But when you come
Dragging your Trojan horse
Of Friendship
With its slimy core of deceit
Murmuring platitudes about
The Negro being happier
Among his own;
I hate you for your perfidy.

Even among thieves
Honor is respected.



Mama! Mama! Tell me. What's happening?
Son, someone just threw a stone
Through the window of Jake's house.
But Why, Mother, Why?
Because he was a Jew; and they hated him.
I thought they only hated
Black people like us.
No, other people suffer for their
Race or religion
Just as we do. You see,
Even in our persecutions
We are not alone.



Please send me a miracle
By noon tomorrow.
The rent man said
He would give me Just twenty-four hours.
The deadline is Noon tomorrow.

Lord, I trust You
I KNOW You can
Still work miracles
Like the Red Sea.

But I can only wait
Until noon tomorrow;
For that's all the time
That the man gave me.



Sing your song to jesus;
Count the world but loss;
Offer your devotion
To Him upon the Cross.

Yes, praise the gentle jesus
And follow His example;
But don't forget the irate jesus
Who cleansed the Temple.

Don't forget the jesus
Who preached of truth and right
But laid aside His preaching
When the time came to fight!



The assassin dealt America
A shattering blow to.
Her solar plexus.
Dazed and stunned, a
Part of her went beserk;
Lashing out blindly
At everything in reach;
Smashing and destroying;
Then seeking to. cleanse its pain
In the fire of arson.

When the dawn came, America
Returned to consciousness;
Licked her wounds; and
Assessed her losses.
She looked on the devastation
And did not call it good.

Now America wears a
Mourning band around her heart.

Copyright © Beatrice M. Murphy, 1969, all rights reserverd.

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