Stray Bullets – A Celebration of Chicago Saloon Poetry

Talk About my Girl

My girl doesn’t clean the toilet,
The sink, the bath, the floors
Or this wood paneling
Like a good maid should.
She doesn’t seem to care
That dust lays about my house
Like it hasn’t been cleaned at all.
I try to be patient and explain
That thing must be very clean
But I don’t think she understands.
It’s so hard to find good help.
I hate to wonder
What her home looks like.
She’s lucky that I keep her.

My madam has a beautiful home,
Fine furniture, nice pots
And running water, more clothes
Than I have ever seen at once
(except in stores) and many
Large rooms for her small family,
Rooms with many pretty pictures
That hang on the huge walls,
Rooms larger than my entire house
And real floors, not dirt.
She tells me I must clean very well
Like a good maid should
But everything is already clean,
So I pretend to clean again.
She’s very lucky
To have such a nice home.

My girl steals porridge, meat,
Flour and sometimes fruit
From our trees in the garden.
I don’t know why she steals
When I give her extra food
From our plates after supper
To take home to her family.
I try to be patient and explain
That stealing is wrong
But I don’t think she understands.
It’s so hard to find good help.
I hate to wonder
What else she steals when I’m gone.
She’s lucky that I keep her.

My madam always has so much food.
Plenty of canned goods, flour,
Meat pies and deserts, much more
Than I think her small family
Could eat in a whole year.
Sometimes she lets me take home
The leftover food I cook for them
Or bones to make soup
But it is not enough to feed
My family and cousins,
Who cannot find work in the city
Because their passes are not in order.
Sometimes I must steal extra
To keep my family from starving.
She’s very lucky
To have so much to eat.

Sometimes my girl doesn’t show up
For two or three days in a row
And I become very upset.
I don’t like to be without help.

Sometimes my madam is upset when
I cannot work for a day or two,
But I must hide my husband and
Cousins when police raid my town.

Sometimes I think my girl
Doesn’t bath herself at all.

Sometime I think my madam
Must wash herself many time a day.

My girl is very lucky to work here.

My madam is very lucky to be White.

 

Copyright 1991 by Jeffrey Spahr-Summers