Sterling A. Brown



                  Slim in Atlanta


Down in Atlanta,
      De whitefolks got laws
For to keep all de niggers
      From laughin' outdoors.

            Hope to Gawd I may die
                  If I ain't speakin' truth
            Make de niggers do deir laughin'
                  In a telefoam booth.

Slim Greer hit de town
      An' de rebs got him told,--
"Dontcha laugh on de street,
      If you want to die old."

            Den dey showed him de booth
                  An' a hundred shines
            In front of it, waitin'
                  In double lines.

Slim thought his sides
      Would bust in two,
Yelled, "Lookout, everybody,
      I'm coming through!"

            Pulled de other man out,
                  An' bust in de box,
            An' laughed four hours
                  By de Georgia clocks.

Den he peeked through de door,
      An' what did he see?
Three hundred niggers there
      In misery.--

            Some holdin' deir sides,
                  Some holdin' deir jaws,
            To keep from breakin'
                  De Georgia laws.

An' Slim gave a holler,
      An' started again;
An' from three hundred throats
      Come a moan of pain.

            An' everytime Slim
                  Saw what was outside,
            Got to whoopin' again
                  Till he nearly died.

An' while de poor critters
      Was waitin' deir chance,
Slim laughed till dey sent
      Fo' de ambulance.

            De state paid de railroad
                  To take him away;
            Den, things was as usual
                  In Atlanta, Gee A.


Sterling A. Brown, The Collected Poems of
Sterling A.Brown, ed. Michael S. Harper,
HarperCollins Publishers, 1980.