WPA Poetry

This is a transcript from a hand-written poem from the WPA era. I know who wrote the transcript . . . the true author is unattributed.


A Stranger stood at the gate of Hell

The Devil himself had answered the bell

He looked him over from head to toe

And said “My Friend I would like to know

What you have done in the line of sin

To entitle you to come within.”

Then, Franklin D with his usual guile

He stepped forth and flashed toothy smile

“When I took charge in thirty three

A nations faith was mine” said he,

“I promised this and I promised that

and I calmed them down with a fireside chat’

I spent their money on fishing trips

And I fished from the decks of their battleships

I gave them jobs on the W.P.A.

Then I raise their taxes and took it away

I raised their wages and closed their shops

I killed their pigs and burned their crops

I double crossed both young and old.

But still the fools my promises sung.

I brought back beer and what do you think?

I taxed it so high they could not drink.

I promised money with government loans

When they could not pay I took their homes.

When I wanted to punish the folk you know

I’d put my wife on the radio.

I paid them to let their farms lie still

And imported food stuff fromBrazil.

I curtailed crops when I felt right mean

And shipped in corn from Argentine.

When they started to worry, stew and fret,

I’d get them to chanting the Alphabet.

With the P.W.A. and the N.H.B.,

The A.A.A. and the C.C.C.

With those many units I got their goats

And still I crammed it down their throats.

My workers worked with the speed of snails,

When the organizers needed their dough.

I closed up plants for the C.I.O.

I ruined jobs, I ruined health

I put screws on the rich man’s wealth.

And some who could not stand the gaff

Would call on me and know I laugh!

When they got too strong on certain things

I’d pack and head for Warmer Springs.

I ruined their country, their homes and then,

I blamed all on “Mine Old Means.”

Now Franklin
talked both long and loud

The Devil stood and his head bowed,

At last he said “Let’s make it clear,

You’ll have to move you can’t stay here!”

For once you mingle with this mob,

I’ll have to hunt myself a job.


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