The Last Black Cargo Blues Villanelle

by Tim Seibles
                                                   with Cudjo Lewis

Can’t unnerstand how we fit in dis scene
The day fall down like a man wit no bones
Don’t look like dis the dream I tried ta dream

Not sure what make dem white eyes so mean
Spent most’a my life tryin not ta cry alone
Can’t hardly see how I fit in dis scene

Pockets so empty even springtime ain’t green
Look like my best chance went off on its own
‘Cause dis ain’t the dream I been tryin’ ta dream

I bet dis the saddest place I ever seen
Me and my heart prolly destined ta roam
How’d I get caught up in dis scheme?

Guess some hammer done fell on my dream
You know how it go when your good luck get gone
Who want dis place ta be like it be?

You hear what I say    but dat ain’t what I mean
Been grindin so long my song scrape like a moan
Gotta get myself outta dis scheme

They say when I die leas’ my soul be clean
Maybe they think my hard head turnt ta stone
‘Cause dat ain’t the dream I been tryin’ ta dream

Dis country roll on like a floodwater stream
Nothin much left’a my body but bone

Look like I’m fit’n’ta die in dis scene
But sher ain’t the way it was s’posed ta be


     Note: Zora Neale Hurston’s recently recovered book, Barracoon, features a series of
              interviews with Cudjo Lewis (born Kossola Oluale in West Africa) in which he
              describes his life before and after being captured and shipped to the
              American South to be made a slave.



Poem copyright 2022 by Tim Seibles. All rights reserved.

See more poems from Tim Seibles debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Movie,”  and “Naive.”


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

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