Kef 24

By Henry Dumas 1934–1968 Henry Dumas
lay sixteen bales down in front on the plank
let me set and bay at the houndog moon
lay sixteen bales down of the cotton flank
pray with me brothers that the pink
boss dont sweat me too soon
beat my leg in a round nigger peg
lord have mercy on my black pole
lay sixteen bales in the even row
let me sweat and cuss my roustabout tune
lord have mercy on my shrinkin back
let me go with the jesus mule
lay sixteen bales for the warp and loom
beat a nigger down and bury his soul
boss dont sweat me too soon
pray with me brothers that I hold my cool
lord have mercy on this long black leg
let me ride on the jesus mule
lay sixteen bales of white fuzz down
lay sixteen tales of how I got around
lord have mercy on this sweat and stink
lord have mercy
lay sixteen bales
pray brothers
beat down
lord have
let me
lord lord
brothers
the houndog moon
howl jesus,
howl!

Henry Dumas, “Kef 24” from The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas, published by Thunder's Mouth Press. Copyright © 1968-2010 by Loretta Dumas and Eugene B. Redmond. Used by permission of the Hentry Dumas Estate, Eugene B. Redmond, Executor.

Source: The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas (Thunder's Mouth Press, 1989)

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Poet Henry Dumas 1934–1968

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

 Henry  Dumas

Biography

Fiction writer and poet Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, but moved to Harlem when he was 10. He attended City College in New York before joining the Air Force; he was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and on the Arabian Peninsula. Dumas attended Rutgers University and worked for a year at IBM, then left the company to teach and direct language workshops at Southern Illinois University. He and his wife, Loretta . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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