poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

LANGSTON HUGHES TRIBUTE ISSUE

Phillip Calderwood

 

COTTON FARM BLUES

I’d rather pick cotton than pick these blues for you
Rather pick cotton than pick these blues for you
My fingers crack and split, but my heart shouldn’t do that too

When you left me, baby, you broke off my right arm
When you left me, baby, you broke off my right arm
You made it hard for me to make it on the cotton farm

You can pick another man’s crop, but that’s no way to live
No, pickin another man’s crop is just no way to live
You picked me so clean, you got all I had to give

The only work I know is fillin up a cotton sack
Only work I know is fillin up a cotton sack
I can pick a lot of cotton, but not enough to bring you back

All these rows of cotton cover many a mile
These rows of cotton cover many a country mile
And the fields are just as white as my baby’s smile

She used to smile at me, but now she’s somewhere far away
Used to smile at me, now she’s somewhere far away
She said, Never again, but my heart says, Maybe some day

 

Phillip Calderwood was born and raised in Northern California. He received a BA in English and history from UC Berkeley and an MA in history from American University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Broadkill Review, Four and Twenty, Gargoyle, and Innisfree. He lives with his wife in Rockville, MD, and works in DC.

 

Published in Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2011.