I AM tired of work; I am tired of building up
somebody else’s civilization.
Let us take a rest, M’Lissy Jane.
I will go down to the Last Chance Saloon, drink
a gallon or two of gin, shoot a game or two of dice and sleep the rest of the night on one of Mike’s barrels.
You will let the old shanty go to rot, the white
people’s clothes turn to dust, and the Calvary Baptist Church sink to the bottomless pit.
You will spend your days forgetting you married
me and your nights hunting the warm gin Mike serves the ladies in the rear of the Last Chance Saloon.
Throw the children into the river; civilization
has given us too many. It is better to die than it is to grow up and find out that you are colored.
Pluck the stars out of the heavens. The stars
mark our destiny. The stars marked my destiny.
I am tired of civilization.
~ “Tired,” Fenton Johnson
1. What words does the author use to convey a tone of despair?
2. How does the balance between his usage of first
("I") and second ("you") person narrative have an impression on the reader?
Write your own brief poem in which you alternate between first
and second person, enabling you to both refer to yourself and your reader. The poem should also convey a tone of despair.