The Cotton Road (Original Poetry)


Slavery Title Image.png
Source: wikipedia, creative commons



Teak feet walk the road
in the thin light of dawn.
Red clay between leathery toes,
blistered, cracked and worn.

We sing a song shuffling along
the bone-worn beaten path,
while whips urge the lame and sick
with a harsh crackling snap.

I'll be so glad when the sun goes down...

We pass desiccated crowns
of Maple, Poplar and Pine,
marching on to cotton field -
a fertile blood-fed shrine.

I ain't all that sleepy but I wanna lie down...

My hoe strikes the rocky ground
as pickers snick the cotton,
on we toil, on we toil -
weary, hopeless and forgotten.

I'll be so glad when the sun goes down
I ain't all that sleepy but I wanna lie down
I'm in a wall of trouble you
Oh right to me
I need you living when...
When I was free

© Rowan Joyce, all rights reserved.

I re-worked this poem inspired by something I wrote centered around the broad theme of slavery. I researched this subject for my university poetry portfolio in 2006 and spent a month in america travelling in the deep south, before visiting family in North Carolina. I penned over 200 poems on that trip while visiting various sites including an old slave plantation. I wrote the first draft of this poem sat in one of the cotton fields at that place.

Slavery is a subject that beggars belief, especially when you get deep into researching the specifics of the intense cruelty and inhumanity that happened. I spent some time reviewing all 200 poems today and realized that there are many poems in that collection that speak to that inhumanity far better than I could ever write now. I will be sharing a selection of them with the steem community over the next few months. I feel that it is important to remember these types of things, to revisit them and understand them so that the lessons of history are truly learned.

As Martin Luther King said:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter!

The parts of the the poem highlighted in 'code text' are quoted from an old slave song that the plantation workers used to sing called I Be So Glad When The Sun Goes Down. I tried to work these lines into the poem to compliment it, almost as if the narrator could hear the song being sung in his mind. Please see the YouTube link below to listen to a recording of this song. All pictures used are creative commons licence, credited beneath the image. If you have enjoyed this poem, you can check out my homepage @raj808 for similar content. Thank you.

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