THE BIRTH OF JOHN HENRY by Melvin B. Tolson.

The night John Henry is born
an ax of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth,
and the eagles and panthers cry!

John Henry-he says to his Ma and Pa:
“Get a gallon of barleycorn.
I want to start right, like a he-man child,
the night that I am born!”

Says: “I want some ham hocks, ribs, and jowls,
a pot of cabbage and greens;
some hoecakes, jam, and buttermilk,
a platter of pork and beans!”

John Henry’s Ma-she wrings her hands,
and his Pa-he scratches his head.
John Henry-he curses in giraffe-tall words,
flops over, and kicks down the bed.

He’s burning mad, like a bear on fire-
so he tears to the riverside.
As he stoops to drink, Old Man River gets scared
and runs upstream to hide!

Some say he was born in Georgia-O Lord!
Some say in Alabam.
But it’s writ on the rock at the Big Bend Tunnel:
“Lousyana was my home, So scram”!!!!!!
Copyright 1965 by Twayne Publishers Inc. reprinted by permission.

Melvin Tolson

Category: Family,