Poems About America

Workin' the Underground Railroad

"I ain't come to find a place to stay," she said,
    "but only to find a place to rest my head.
For I been travelin further than the eye can see and
    much further than the heart might wish," she said,
"To places an' times that no one should have to see or know
    or find their selves in, in this world or any other."

"I come to spend a moment here, a night, a little breath
    before bein on my way.
For I'm gonna go down this road, like it or not,
An' even if they try to stop me and take me back,
    I ain't goin back.
I'm gonna have a life."
She raised her eyes to me
    and looked directly into mine as she said this.

"There are some I left behind, you know,
    but they were gone long before I actually left.
For back then it was grab, take, pull on anythin -
    anythin that could be moved, or owned,
    or divided up was bought and sold.
No matter if it was a human person.
No matter that the little ones cried.
It was impossible to hold onto anythin,
    even to the little ones.

Everythin, everythin had a price.
Everythin was for sale.
An' so was I, and so was my children.
An' so they got shipped off one day, somewhere,
And I swear I'll find them when I can, I swear I will.

I know you wonderin what I'm gonna do
    after I leave here.
Well, I tell you I ain't figured it out.
I don't know where I'm goin,
    or what I'm gonna do,
    or whose gonna put me up at the next stop.
I only know that I'm travelin. I'm movin.
    an' all the pain of the past is movin with me -
    not just away from me - but movin with me.
For there is pain that you can leave behind
    and there is pain you can't get away from -
Not when it's burned a hole in your heart
    a mile wide and a mile deep.

But pain or no pain, I'm gonna make my way
    to a better place.
I'm gonna make my way to a free place.
An' then I'm gonna try to find my children,
An' I'm gonna find a job, and a little house
    of my own to live in.
One day I jus might be somebody,
Not jus this plain, no-good,
    nobody, no one that you see here -
    but somebody real and somebody proud."