The South

The lazy, laughing South

With blood on its mouth.

The sunny-faced South,

Beast-strong,

Idiot-brained.

The child-minded South

Scratching in the dead fire's ashes

For a Negro's bones.

Cotton and the moon,

Warmth, earth, warmth,

The sky, the sun, the stars,

The magnolia-scented South.

Beautiful, like a woman,

Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,

Passionate, cruel,

Honey-lipped, syphilitic —

That is the South.

And I, who am black, would love her

But she spits in my face.

And I, who am black,

Would give her many rare gifts

But she turns her back upon me.

So now I seek the North —

The cold-faced North,

For she, they say,

Is a kinder mistress,

And in her house my children

May escape the spell of the South.

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