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Ronald Snellings

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A Poem For Certain Cats
(for the negro soldiers)
by Ronald Snellings

Hey you -- Black boy!
You with the submachine gun!
What you think you doing in them wet
         rice paddies, man?
This don't look like Birmingham to me.
Hey you -- Black boy!
You with the M-1 on your shoulder!
That whitey at your side looks just like
the one who shot your uncle Clyde in Mississippi:
ask him and see. (looks just like him to me).
See those folks there?
Those young yellow cats
in black peasant pajamas? Well, they're
fighting whitey's sons to keep their land
(Ma-a-an, they're about your age too).
See those young whiteys at your side?
They're fighting those yellow cats in black
to keep the land for daddy's corporation.....
....What you fighting for, Black boy?
The land don't belong to you, and "daddy's corporation" is
         strictly OFF-LIMITS.
Hey you -- Black boy! Explain it to me;
         I'm puzzled.
Why police dogs and bombed-out churches
         only make you mad enough
to slaughter YELLOW folks you've never seen.

         Hey you -- Black boy!
Everybody's waiting for your answer.

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Barnes, Clive. "Theater: The Charm of Vinie Burrows." New York Times, November 12, 1968, p. 54.


Snelling, Rolland. "A Poem For Certain Cats (for the negro soldiers)." (April 1966). Liberator, 6(4), p. 19.
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