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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Billboard/Poster/Sign (any or all) (12/02/10)

TITLE: Follow the Drinking Gourd
By Patricia Protzman
12/09/10


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The sign read, “Auction, Negroes for sale here.
Healthy young females, able-bodied males.”
The SLAVE pen, with a guard, the Overseer.
Captured souls in bondage behind iron rails.
O where is justice, Lord, from mankind’s sin
They judge us on the color of our skin.

The sign read, “Devices for slave restraint,
Iron masks, collars, leg shackles and spurs.
These will assist you, MASTER, in constraint.
Very helpful when used during transfers.”
O where is our help, Father, must we endure
Inhuman treatment so cruel and severe.

The sign read, “$150 Reward for--
Return of my runaway slave, Nate.
You are warned not to harbor or succor
Him or be instrumental in his ESCAPE.”
O please deliver your children sweet Lord
Assist us to follow the drinking gourd.

Amidst the heavens a celestial sign,
Polaris, the North Star, God’s FREEDOM map.
Those enslaved cry out, Savior we are Thine,
Bodies, minds, and souls our Masters entrap,
O sing praises to the Lord I am Free.
The sign read, “Welcome to Cincinnati.”

* * * * * *

The "drinking gourd" refers to the hollowed out gourd used by slaves and other rural Americans as a water dipper. The poem uses it as a code name for the Big Dipper star formation, which points to Polaris and North—indicating freedom for the slave.


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This article has been read 407 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/09/10
This is a lovely poem that takes us back to a time that we must never forget. I had chills while reading it. Great fresh take on a difficult topic.
Amanda Brogan12/11/10
Absolutely love this poem! I can feel your passion for the slaves throughout this well-rhymed piece. Perfect for the topic!
Noel Mitaxa 12/12/10
A poem that throws light on a regrettably dark age. Congratulations on embracing the hope as well as the pain. It reminded me of an old National Geographic article on the Underground Rrailway for slaves heading northward. Very well done.
Beth LaBuff 12/13/10
My daughter sang the song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd" for several choir auditions. It's always been a special song filled with meaning for me. You've written this entry just as exquisitely as the original song. Wonderful!
Karen Pourbabaee 12/14/10
This was excellent & captured
so much in few words...love the title and the symbolism of the drinking gourd.
Lillian Rhoades 12/16/10
Let me be the first to congratulate you on your First Place win. The poem was masterfully constructed; a great reminder of the struggle for freedom that is so much a part of our history.

Well done!
Dolores Stohler12/16/10
Congratulations on your 1st place win. Very creative.
Rachel Phelps12/16/10
Wow. So good. Congratulations on your EC!
Patricia Protzman12/16/10
Thanks to everyone for your well wishes. I was beginning to think the Lord didn't want me to write because had I never won first place. I prayed last week for Him to show me if I should continue to write by letting me win first place. His answer is loud and clear. Praise His Name!
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/16/10
Congratulations on EC with your excellent poem. Enjoy your win...and your sign!
Beth LaBuff 12/17/10
Congratulations, Patricia, on your Editor's Choice award!