Constab Ballads (1912)

The Apple-Woman’s Complaint

WHILE me deh walk ‘long in de street,
Policeman’s yawnin’ on his beat ;
An’ dis de wud him chief ta’n say—
Me mus’n’ car’ me apple-tray.

Ef me no wuk, me boun’ fe tief;
S’pose dat will please de pólice chief!
De prison dem mus’ be wan’ full,[1]
Mek dem’s ‘pon we like ravin’ bull.

Black nigger wukin’ laka cow
An’ wipin’ sweat-drops from him brow,
Dough him is dyin’ sake o’ need,
P’lice an’ dem headman boun’ fe feed.

P’lice an’ dem headman gamble too,
Dey shuffle card an’ bet fe true;
Yet ef me Charlie gamble, well,
Dem try fe ‘queeze him laka hell.

De headman fe de town police
Mind[2] neber know a little peace,
‘Cep’ when him an’ him heartless ban’
Hab sufferin’ nigger in dem han’.

Ah son-son! dough you ‘re bastard, yah,
An’ dere’s no one you can call pa,
Jes’ try to ha’ you’ mudder’s min’
An’ Police Force you’ll neber jine.

But how judge believe policemen,
Dem dutty mout’ wid lyin’ stain’?
While we go batterin’ along
Dem doin’ we all sort o’ wrong.

We hab fe barter-out we soul
To lib t’rough dis ungodly wul’;
massa Jesus! don’t you see
How police is oppressin’ we?

Dem wan’ fe see we in de street
Dah foller dem all ‘pon dem beat;
An’ after, ‘dout a drop o’ shame,
Say we be’n dah solicit dem.

Ah massa Jesus! in you’ love
Jes’ look do’n from you’ t’rone above,
An’ show me how a poo’ weak gal
Can lib good life in dis ya wul’.

  1. The prisons must want occupants, and that is why they are down upon us like angry bulls
  2. The mind of the chief of the town police is never happy, except, etc.


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This work (Poems by Claude McKay by Claude McKay) is free of known copyright restrictions.