“Report to the Mother” by Etheridge Knight:
Well, things / be / pretty bad now, Mother—
Got very little to eat.
The kids got no shoes for their tiny feet.
Been fighting with my woman, and one / other
Woe:—Ain’t got a cent to pay the rent.
Been oiling / up / my pistol, too—
Tho I / be / down with the flu,
So what / are / You going to do . . . ?
O Mother don’t sing me
To the Father to fix / it—
He will blow-it. He fails
His sons—and / you / know it.
(From The Essential Etheridge Knight © 1986 by Etheridge Knight. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. Photo by Phil Warren)