Poems I Love

Whitey on the Moon by Gil Scott-Heron

About the Poem

This spoken word poem by Gil Scott-Heron is from 1970 and was written during the Apollo moon landings while ongoing issues with inequality were running rampant within Black communities.

The dichotomy exposed in the poem between America’s willingness to spend money on space exploration and their unwillingness to spend money to help the impoverished is, unfortunately, still something that is very common in its economic practices today.

(You can listen to the original audio of this poem here.)

A rat done bit my sister Nell
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell
(and Whitey’s on the moon)
I can’t pay no doctor bills
(but Whitey’s on the moon)
Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still
(while Whitey’s on the moon)
Y’know the man jus’ upped my rent las’ night
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
(but Whitey’s on the moon)
I wonder why he’s uppin’ me?
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
Well I was already payin’ him fifty a week
(and now Whitey’s on the moon)
Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin’ up
An’ as if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister Nell
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an’ arm began to swell
(and Whitey’s on the moon)
Was all that money I made las’ year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come I ain’t got no money here?
(Hm! Whitey’s on the moon)
Y’know I jus’ ’bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I’ll send these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Hello all. I am a full-time writer who is constantly discovering her voice. I write poetry, personal narratives and short stories. I'm always open to reaching and connecting with new readers, so leave me a comment or question. Let's start a dialogue! Don't forget to follow me here and on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok! (@exisflor is my handle for all three sites)

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