Eli Whitney
with hammer and tin
one night invented
the cotton gin

inspired he said
by barnyard events
when a tomcat tried to pull
a chicken through the fence.

Now a cotton gin’s
just a big old box
with a wire screen
and some wire hooks

in one end a cotton boll
gets pulled and cleaned
and out from the other
comes a pair of your old blue jeans.

Now some folks claim
Whitney stole that thing
from his landlady by the name of
Catherine Green

she gave him the Idea
with a hairbrush and a pin
but women weren’t allowed
to have patents way back then.

Historians believe
that the cotton gin
was the key to the whole
damn slave system

well if we could change time
and maybe just go back
to rescue that chicken
from that old tomcat

or hide Mrs Green’s brush
under the floor
we might have prevented
The Civil War

and Abraham Lincoln
wouldn’t have been shot
the Battle of Gettysberg
might not have been fought

no slavery
no plantations
no Ku Klux Klan
no segregation

and Eli Whitney
with his hammer and tin
might have just had to settle
for inventing the garbage bin.


(unrecorded, published in QUADRANT)