Dat Dirty Rum

If you must drink it, do no come
   An’ chat up in my face;
I hate to see de dirty rum,
   Much more to know de tas’e.

What you find dere to care about
   I never understan’;
It only dutty up you mout’,
   An’ mek you less a man.

I see it throw you ’pon de grass
   An’ mek you want no food,
While people scorn you as dey pass
   An’ see you vomit blood.

De fust beginnin’ of it all,
   You stood up calm an’ cool,
An’ put you’ back agains’ de wall
   An’ cuss our teacher fool.

You cuss me too de se’fsame day
   Because a say you wrong,
An’ pawn you’ books an’ went away
   Widout anedder song.

Your parents’ hearts within dem sink,
   When to your yout’ful lip
Dey watch you raise de glass to drink,
   An’ shameless tek each sip.

I see you in de dancing-booth,
   But all your joy is vain,
For on your fresh an’ glowin’ youth
   Is stamped dat ugly stain.

Dat ugly stain of drink, my frien’,
   Has cost you your best girl,
An’ mek you fool ’mongst better men
   When your brain’s in a whirl.

You may smoke just a bit indeed,
   I like de “white seal” well;
Aldough I do not use de weed,
   I’m fond o’ de nice smell.

But wait until you’re growin’ old
   An’ gettin’ weak an’ bent,
An’ feel your blood a-gettin’ cold
   ’Fo’ you tek stimulent.

Then it may mek you stronger feel
   While on your livin’ groun’;
But ole Time, creepin’ on your heel,
   Soon, soon will pull you down:

Soon, soon will pull you down, my frien’,
   De rum will help her too;
An’ you’ll give way to better men,
   De best dat you can do.

From Songs of Jamaica (Aston W. Gardner & Co., 1912) by Claude McKay. This poem is in the public domain.