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Brown

 

Sterling Brown
1901-1989

 
"Slim Greer in Hell"

 

I.
Slim Greer went to heaven;
      St. Peter said, "Slim,
You been a right good boy."
      An' he winked at him.

"You been travelin' rascal
      In yo'day.
You kin roam once mo';
      Den you come to stay.

"Put dese wings on yo' shoulders,
      An' save yo' feet."
Slim grin, and he speak up,
      "Thankye, Pete."

Den Peter say, "Go
      To Hell an' see,
All dat is doing, and
      Report to me.

"Be sure to remember
      How everything go."
Slim say, "I be seein' yuh
      On de late watch, bo."

Slim got to cavortin'
      Swell as you choose,
Like Lindy in de Spirit
      Of St. Louis Blues.

He flew an' he flew,
      Till at last he hit
A hangar wid de sign readin'
      DIS IS IT.

Den he parked his wings,
      An' strolled aroun',
Gittin' used to his feet
      On de solid ground.

II.
Big bloodhound came aroarin'
      Like Niagry Falls,
Sicked on by white devils
      In overhalls.

Now Slim warn't scared
      Cross my heart, it's a fac',
An de dog went on a bayin'
      Some po' devil's track.

Den Slim saw a mansion
      An' walked right in;
De Devil looked up
      Wid a sickly grin.

"Suttingly didn't look
      Fo' you, Mr. Greer,
How it happens you comes
      To visit here?"

Slim say "Oh, jes' thought
      I'd drop by a spell."
"Feel at home, seh, an' here's
      De keys to hell."

Den he took Slim around
      An' showed him people
Rasin' hell as high as
      De first Church Steeple.

Lots of folks fightin'
      At de roulette wheel,
Like old Rampart Street,
      Or leastwise Beale.

Showed him bawdy houses
      An' cabarets,
Slim thought of New Orleans
      An' Memphis days.

Each devil was busy
      Wid a devlish broad,
An' Slim cried, "Lawdy,
      Lawd, Lawd, Lawd."

Took him in a room
      Where Slim see
De preacher wid a brownskin
      On each knee.

Showed him giant stills,
      Going everywhere,
Wid a passel of devils
      Stretched dead drunk there.

Den he took him to de furnace
      Dat some devils was firing,
Hot as Hell, an' Slim start
      A mean presspirin'.

White devils with pitchforks
      Threw black devils on,
Slim thought he'd better
      Be gittin' along.

An' he says "Dis makes
      Me think of home
Vicksburg, Little Rock, Jackson,
      Waco and Rome."

Den de devil gave Slim
      De big Ha-Ha;
An' turned into a cracker,
      Wid a sheriff's star.

Slim ran fo' his wings,
      Lit out from de groun'
Hauled it back to St. Peter,
      Safety boun'.

III.
St. Peter said, "Well,
      You got back quick.
How's de devil? An' what's
      His latest trick?"

An' Slim Say, "Peter,
      I really cain't tell,
The place was Dixie
      That I took for hell."

Then Peter say, "you must
      Be crazy, I vow,
Where'n hell dja think Hell was,
      Anyhow?

"Git on back to de yearth,
      Cause I got de fear,
You'se a leetle too dumb,
      Fo' to stay up here ..."

© Sterling Brown
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