Long Gone

I laks yo’ kin’ of lovin’
    Ain’t never caught you wrong
But it jes ain’ nachal
    Fo’ to stay here long;

It jes ain’ nachal
    Fo’ a railroad man
With a itch fo’ travelin’
    He cain’t understan’. . . .

I looks at de rails
    An’ I looks at de ties
An’ I hears an ole freight
    Puffin’ up de rise,

An’ at nights on my pallet
    When all is still
I listens fo’ de empties
    Bumpin’ up de hill;

When I oughta be quiet
    I is got a itch
Fo’ to hear de whistle blow
    Fo’ de crossin’ or de switch,

An’ I knows de time’s a nearin’
    When I got to ride
Though it’s homelike and happy
    At your side.

You is done all you could do
    To make me stay;
’Tain’t no fault of yours I’se leavin’—
    I’se jes dataway.

I is got to see some people
    I ain’ never seen,
Gotta highball thu some country
    Whah I never been. . . .

I don’t know which way I’m travelin’—
    Far or near,
All I knows fo’ certain is
    I cain’t stay here.

Ain’t no call at all, sweet woman,
    Fo’ to carry on—
Jes my name and jes my habit
    To be Long Gone. . . .

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.