A Retiree's Lament

illustrations (scratch drawings) of two people next to each other

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 11 No. 4, "'Not No Easy Business:' Interviews with prostitutes." Find more from that issue here.

Lyrics by Roy Greer, a retired cotton mill worker and member of the Brown Lung Association

Music by Joe Pfister, Institute for Southern Studies


Oh me, oh my.

Too sick to live, too poor to die,

Too weak to walk, too fat to fly,

Oh me, oh my.


And on that final round-up day,

I dreamed, the angels came,

And carted me away from here,

In someone else’s name.


I hope they'll open up the gate for me,

I hope they’ll let me in.

I forgot my Medicare card,

I wonder if that’s a sin.


I don’t know how they'll rate me,

Or what of me they’ll think.

I helped to move a mighty barrier.

To get liquor pb the drink.


Though the mills may keep on running,

The dust is here to stay.

It will make the workers sick at first,

Then take their lives away.