Carolina Chansons eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 83 pages of information about Carolina Chansons.

    Peer back along the bloody moon-wash dim
    To see the fish-tailed water-witches swim.



    After the hurricane of the late forties,
    Peter Polite says, in the live-oak trees
    Were weird, macabre macaws
    And ash-colored cockatoos, blown overseas
    From Nassau and the West Indies. 
    These hopped about like dead men’s thoughts
    Among the draggled Spanish moss,
    Preening themselves, all at a loss,
    Preening faint caws,
    And shrieking from nostalgia—­
    With dull screams like a child
    Born with neuralgia—­
    And this seems true to me,
    Fitting the landscape’s drab grotesquery.



    The river boat had loitered down its way;
    The ropes were coiled, and business for the day
    Was done.  The cruel noon closed down
    And cupped the town. 
    Stray voices called across the blinding heat,
    Then drifted off to shadowy retreat
    Among the sheds. 
    The waters of the bay
    Sucked away
    In tepid swirls, as listless as the day. 
    Silence closed about me, like a wall,
    Final and obstinate as death. 
    Until I longed to break it with a call,
    Or barter life for one deep, windy breath.

    A mellow laugh came rippling
    Across the stagnant air,
    Lifting it into little waves of life. 
    Then, true and clear,
    I caught a snatch of harmony;
    Sure lilting tenor, and a drowsing bass,
    Elusive chords to weave and interlace,
    And poignant little minors, broken short,
    Like robins calling June—­
    And then the tune: 
    “Oh, nobody knows when de Lord is goin ter call,
    Roll dem bones
    It may be in de Winter time, and maybe in de Fall,
    Roll dem bones
    But yer got ter leabe yer baby an yer home an all—­
    So roll dem bones,
    Oh my brudder,
    Oh my brudder,
    Oh my brudder,
    Roll dem bones!

    There they squatted, gambling away
    Their meagre pay;
    Fatalists all. 
    I heard the muted fall
    Of dice, then the assured,
    Retrieving sweep of hand on roughened board.

    I thought it good to see
    Four lives so free
    From care, so indolently sure of each tomorrow,
    And hearts attuned to sing away a sorrow.

    Then, like a shot
    Out of the hot
    Still air, I heard a call: 
    “Throw up your hands!  I’ve got you all! 
    It’s thirty days for craps. 
    Come, Tony, Paul! 
    Now, Joe, don’t be a fool! 
    I’ve got you cool.”

Project Gutenberg
Carolina Chansons from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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