Red Cotton

by Andy Manly


The mules are watered,

and the plows are greased.

Bell and June are ready to race.

Forty acres today,

forty acres before they sleep.



My new home is done,

and Nell is pregnant again.

I will name him John D.,

a good name I’d say.

A name the same as mine.



The great war is over,

it made no difference here.

More land is what I want,

more share croppers

and seed.



At the auction today,

a new bidder bid for me,

and I won the last acres on this road.

More land to clear,

more land and more rows.



The cotton bleeds red in the field,

from the dust, the rain,

and the Carolina clay.

The Depression is here.

The land is taken up with weeds.





The honey days are gone,

no more milk here.

No bread, no bacon.

The bottom has fallen out,

Black Thursday was the day.



Nell raised hell today.

Nothing left to pick,

little, to no money left.

My cotton is bailed and ginned,

just enough for us to live.



The times have changed, and I lost the bet.

The tax man is here, and the loans are gone.

Nothing left anymore.

Whiskey, now.

More whiskey, please.



No more plowing or planting.

No growing or

hoeing or picking.

No bailing. No ginning.

No selling.

Now that there is no cotton living.