Egypt

by Glenn Fairman7/31/16

The Slave ships of Tyre steal into the night
Pyramids of Egypt reflect the moon’s light
Slave baby suckles and coos with delight
And we are working, working, working,
We are working for our own salvation

I came forth as a slave on the day I was born
And was weaned by another who carried me not
My father was sold for the price he was worth
My mother she died on the day he was bought

Tobacco and cotton are the work of my hands
Fourteen hours of labor the harvest demands
On Sunday I lie with the sun on my face
And ponder the hand dealt by God’s curious grace

Lo, Sally my woman she bore me a child
In the mold of my father and the glint of his eye
I believed that a slave could be happy awhile
In Jesus, the source of my strength I relied

Now, Sally and child were sold deep in the South
where a nigger’s no more than mere chattel or meat
and a bondsman’s complaint pays a crack in the mouth
and runners are shackled from collar to feet

Three times I have run from this master of mine
And three times I purchased the maximum hand
Cropped ears and notched nostrils for crossing the line
Ball and chain for the nigger who don’t understand

That the Slave ships of Tyre steal away in the night
The Sphinx in its glory reflects the moonlight
And my son’s mind lies pondering his own wayward plight
For he will be working, working, working,
He will be working through his own salvation

G.F. 1989


Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca.
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6 Responses to Egypt

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks, Glenn. I wonder if Brother Ron could put that to music.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    Go for it. I came upon some poetry that I had written as an undergrad for an ethnic studies course that dealt with slavery. I called it “The Gospel of Sorrow” and it couched the justification and endurance of slavery in biblical vernacular. Would you like to see more?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      See more? Sure. That’s what we’re here for. I thought your above poem was describing today’s college campus. They don’t crop ears and notch nostrils anymore. But I hear the “sensitivity training” is pretty harsh.

      Me first though regarding poems:

      There once was a party of choice
      Who for freedom they made much noise
      They kept slavery alive
      Peace they wouldn’t abide
      Especially when aborting black boys

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    By the volume of their bleating, one would think that Trump was preparing to ship them all to the back 40

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    Interesting. With the Tyre and Egyptian references, I was ready to nitpick that tobacco was a New World crop and not available in ancient times, only to have it turn out that this wasn’t about ancient times at all. (Well, they probably seem ancient to a lot of students today. But many others think they were just yesterday.)

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