In response to the wretchedly intolerant statement made by Willard "Mitt" Romney in the speech when he straight-faced the pretense that there was no difference in beliefs between the Mormons and the Christian Evangelicals, I present this. (Romney decided that people who don't believe as he does are "secularists" AND that Secularism is a religion. Maybe. But when he declared that such a religion "IS WRONG," he went from weird to unacceptable and disqualified from being an elected official. This is a man whose faith holds that he will become one of many gods in the next life, that he's a saint in this one, and that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. I will not criticize that belief. I'm just pointing out that it's far enough out of the mainstream for a sensible follower to hold his tongue about denouncing someone else's beliefs.)
In addition to shouting out a true American, Constitutionally-based, hearty "FUCK YOU," and/or a classical "EAT SHIT AND DIE YOU HYPOCRITICAL MEALY-MOUTHED INTOLERANT NAZI," I post this poem. "Black Cross"
by Joseph S. Newman, as performed by Richard "Lord" Buckley
"Black Cross" was published in 1948 in a collection of poems entitled It Could Be Verse.
This is Lord Buckley's as performed at the Ivar Theater in Los Angeles in 1959. The recording of that performance was released on Way Out Humor
, World Pacific, 1959, and re-released as Lord Buckley in Concert
, Demon Verbals, 1985.
Normally I would bristle at someone re-writing another's poem, but Lord Buckley was SO MUCH an embodiment of the gentle, loving manner described here, I would have to say that his dialect-heavy version should be accepted despite what we would see as improper today.
The poet was the actor Paul Newman's uncle (Lord Buckley thought it was his grandfather). Louis Untermeyer wrote a glowing Introduction, so the book was probably well-received at the time.
Buckley probably met Newman at some time. He recorded two of the other poems in his collection, "Jehova and Finnegan" and "Leviathan" as well as another, "Shah's Embroidered Pants," that does not appear in the book.
"Black Cross" was also performed by Bob Dylan
and can be heard on the bootleg Minnesota Hotel Tape, recorded December 1961.
Lord Buckley's Version:
There was Old Hezekiah Jones, of Hogback County.
He lived on a hill in a weatherbeaten hovel.
And all that he owned was a two-acre plot
with a bed and some books and a hoe and a shovel.
Old Hezekiah, black as the soil he was hoeing,
Worked pretty hard to make both ends meet.
Raised what he ate, with a few cents over
To buy corn likker that he drank down neat,
And a few cents more that he put in the cupboard
Against what he called "de rainy season,"
But he never got to save more'n two or three dollars
Till he gave it away for this or that reason.
The white folks around knew old Hezekiah...
"Harmless enough, but the way I figger
He better lay off'n them goddam books,
'Cause readin' ain't good fer an ignorant nigger."
Reverend Green, of the white man's church,
Finally got around to "comin' ovah
To talk with you-all about the Pearly Kingdom
An' to save yo' soul fer the Lawd Jehovah!"
"D'you b'lieve in the Lawd?" asked the white man's preacher.
Hezekiah puckered his frosty brow,
"Well I can't say 'yes,' so I ain't gonna say it,
Cauz I ain't SEEN de Lawd....nowhere....no-how."
"D'you b'lieve in Heaven?" asked the white man's preacher,
"Where you go, if you're good, fer yer last rewahd?"
"Ahm good," said Hezikiah, "good as Ahm able,
But Ah don't expect nothin' from Heaven OR the Lawd."
"D'ya b'lieve in the Church?" asked the white man's preacher.
Hezekiah said, "Well de Church is divided;
Ef they can't agree, than Ah cain't neither...
Ahm like them....Ah ain't decided."
"You don't b'lieve nothin'," roared the white man's preacher.
"Oh yes Ah does," said old Hezikiah,
"Ah b'lieve that a man's beholden to his neighbahs
Widout de hope of Heaven or de fear o' hell fire."
There's a lot of good ways for a man to be wicked...
They hung Hezikiah as high as a pidgeon,
And the nice folks around said, "He had it comin'
'Cause the son-of-a-bitch didn't have no religion!"