River Town Packin House Blues

by Quincy Troupe

big tom was a black nigga man
cold & black
eye say, big tom was a black nigga man
black steel flesh
standin like a gladiator
soaked in animal blood, bits of flesh
wringin wet
standin at the center of death
buzzards hoverin
swingin his hamma called death

big tom was a black packin houseman
thirty years
eye say, big tom was a black packin houseman
loved them thirty years
& swang his hamma like ol john henry, poundin nails
swang hat hamma twenty years
crushin skulls
of cows & pigs, screamin fear
the man underneath slit their throats
twenty years
the man underneath slit their throats

big tom was a ‘prentice for ten long years
watchin death
eye say, big tom was ‘prentice for ten long years
smellin death
was helper to a fat, white man
who swang a hamma
who got slow
eye say, he taught big tom how to kill

& twenty years of killin is a lot
to bring home
eye say, twenty years of killin is a lot
to bring home
& drinkin too much gin & whisky can make
a gentle/man blow
eye say, drinkin too much gin & whisky
can make a good man sho nuff blow
don’t chu know

big tom beat his wife, after killin all day
his six chillun, too
eye say, tom beat his wife, after killin all day
his young chillun, to
beat em so awful bad, he beat em right out they shoes
screamin blues
eye say, he beat em so awful bad
he made a redeyed, hungry alley rat
spread the news, bout dues these black-blues people was payin
couldn’t even bite em, cause of the blues these
black-blues people was payin

big tom killed six men, maimed a couple of hundred
& never served a day
eye say, big tom killed six men, maimed a couple a hundred
never in jail one day
the figures coulda been higher
but the smart ones, they ran away
eye say, the number that was maimed, or dead, coulda been higher
but the smart ones, they ran away
saved from the graveyard
another day
the smart ones
they ran away

big tom workin all day, thirty years
uh huh, sweatin heavy
eye say, big tom swingin his hamma, all right
twenty summers, outta love
eye say, big tom killin for pay, uh huh
twenty autumns, outta need
eye say, big dealin out murders, like a houseman
in the painyards, outa false pride
eye say, big tom drinkin heavy, uh huh
laughin loose, in taverns
eye say, big tom loose, in black communities
death fights cancel light
& big tom? he just keeps on
stumblin, all right

& twenty years of killin
is to much to bring home to love
eye say, twenty years of killin
is to much to bring gome to love
& drinkin heavy gin & whiskey
can make a fall man fall in mud
eye say, drinkin to much gin & whiskey
can make a good man have bad blood
don’t chu know
can make a strong man
have bad blood

big black tom was a cold, nigga man
strong & black
eye say, big black tom was a cold nigga man
hard steel flesh
& he stood, like a gladiator, soaked in animal blood
bits of flesh, soakin wet
stood, at the center, in the middle of death
sweatin vultures swingin his hamma called death 260 workday, for twenty years
like ol john henry, eye say
swingin his hamma named death

56 responses to “River Town Packin House Blues

  1. Quincy Troupe is a poet that is capable of captivating any audience. His performance of this poem River town is explosively awesome.

  2. This poem is very intense. The imagery Troupe uses gives us a clear understanding of Big Tom’s character.

  3. I enjoyed the word usage. It was harsh and to the point and that added to the rawness of the poem. The imagery detailed in the poem gives a clear sense of who Big Tom is and what his character. He was hardened by environment and transformed to this unlikable criminal.

  4. I enjoyed this poem rather than the Magic Johnson poem that Quincy Troupe had written. In my opinion, i believe that this poem had more to offer than the other one. This one to me also had a better flow to it. Very well constructed.

  5. It is yet another fine poem by Quincy Troupe. I don’t think Big Tom in the poem is committing manslaghter, but rather the poem is a fancy way of describing an ordinary butcher man at work. Big Tom in the poem to me seems to be a hard working butcher man working at a meat shop. Troupe again uses his language to communicate the energy and emotional state that a ordinary meat shop worker experiences on a daily basis.

  6. I like his integrity in how he speaks when he recites his poetry. But not everyone may. It all depends on the viewers. Quincy does give us some great visuals.

  7. im not a true fan of poetry but Quincy Troupe has a different perspective in poetry. His way of interpreting his poetry is vivid and expresses a lot of emotions.

  8. Troupe used repetitive words to bring the message across, to make the poem that much more dramatic. Things people go through or do as a living they will always get stressed and have anger bottled up but with alcohol it always takes it to another level.

  9. Quincy Troupe did not really fascinate me as it did to the rest of the class. I like that he has the rhyming thing going on but I do not like how repetitive it becomes. To me it is like it is just filler. We know we are talking about Tom throughout the poem there is no need to be reminded every two seconds.

  10. I think one of the themes of this poem is that a man can be bad his whole life and not go to jail. Just because you don’t get caught by the police doesn’t mean you’re not a miserable person. Big Tom killed for a living which led him to murder people for more money which led to his drinking problem. He loved his family, but he didn’t love himself. Although he was not in a physical jail, I believe Big Tom was in a self-created prison within his mind.

  11. this poem was pretty catchy I liked it, it is definitely more violent and intense than all the other poems I have read from Quincy Troupe. I love that his poems are so descriptive and really catch the readers attention and gets them hooked.

  12. Anybody like big tom can have a lot on their plate. They can go through life working hard and be overwhelmed and be filled with angry. Quincy Troupe is a very good poet and his writing style is admirable.

  13. What really separates this poem from others, is that Quincy Trope uses repetition to increase the drama in Big Tom’s life. I believe Big Tom was a very hard worker and provided for his family. However, as every job brings stress every person handles it differently. In Big Tom’s case, he killed pigs and cows for a living which could have changed his perspective that murdering was okay. In addition, his drinking problem only further increased to his mental health problem.

  14. Big Tom. A man that seems worked hard but however; struggled with many inner issues. Society can cause stress to a black man easily, just trying to falsify the stereotype of a black man can be a lot. The way the poem is set up reminds me of church, which makes it intense in a way, very raw and eye opening.

  15. This poem is by far the most intense one. I do not think the poet is trying to illustrate a bad image about black man through the utilization of Big Time. I believe this poem is about how work can get to all of us sometimes and we can just snap. Many people cope with life differently but Big Tom liked to drink which did not help his mental health.

  16. Tom seemed to be a hard working man however it also seems as if he was still struggling to get by. I beleive that is what drove him to drinking and abusing his family. Alot of times men get upset and depressed when they don’t feel they are capable of doing their job as provider so they lash out. Unfortunately, many times they take their anger out on the ones they love. Tom was a trained killer, so just about every encounter he had, he did what he was trained to do.

  17. Big Tom, represents a lot of black men going through a lot in their lives. Big Tom represents a lot of Black men in the inner city working hard with a lot of pinned up anger, always thinking about how to release this anger. Actually, even though the narrator is saying big Tom, this person can be represented as anyone one of us working hard with no positive reinforment about our work or anything that we do.

  18. Quincy Troupe really does have a way with words. Most poetry that I am used to is more humorous, while Troupe can take a dark reality of life and put it onto a page and still keep the life in it. He shows the darkness of the world as he sees it and manages to turn it into a wonderful piece of poetry that many people will be able to understand.

  19. I had never heard of Quincy Troupe before this class. I had never heard poetry that was brought to life through all of my senses. His words transported me to his world, asking me to walk beside him through his journey. I will seek out more of his poetry. Thank you Jan Kollitz for the introduction!

  20. I loved the way Quincy Troupe narrated this poem, he made me feel this poem and made it come to life. I really like that he writes about his people and what they have gone through. I feel like this poem tells the story of this mans struggles, ” Swinging his hammer named death”.

  21. Quincy Troupe once again impacts me with his poetry. He takes poetry to a totally different level. He wins the audience with vivid tone and bold words. The story he tells the story of the African-American Tom. Tom had a good life but due to wrong choices his life turns upside down. Tom had the bad luck pf growing up in a wrong neighborhood where he learns bad habits. Tom learns how to drink, offend and kill. Later on, Tom evolves to be a strong bad and “cold nigga man”. This poem certainly makes me think of how lucky I am in comparison to other people.

  22. Quincy Troupe brings life to his poetry! I’m no a fan of poetry at all and it often takes a lot of effort and self-will to read a full poem, but Quincy Troupe’s poetry simply demands attention. I love the way he uses repetition to make his point across and really capture the meaning of the words being said. The piano playing in the background and crazy sound effects didn’t hurt either.

  23. this poem really is a tragedy, it is about the flow of violence and death that come from ones man work down to his family and the people in his community. i think the point being mad here is that when one lives in hate and violence that it becomes who he is; his way of life.

  24. Big Tom was the epitome of a power figure. The way Quincy Troupe describes Big Tom is truly mesmerizing.

    “big tom beat his wife, after killin all day
    his six chillun, too
    eye say, tom beat his wife, after killin all day
    his young chillun, to
    beat em so awful bad, he beat em right out they shoes
    screamin blues
    eye say, he beat em so awful bad
    he made a redeyed, hungry alley rat”

    The background music is also a nice touch that can directly represent the time era that this poem was written.

  25. Mr. Troupe is truly a remarkable man. the way he is able to bring his stories to life through his choice of words and tone is amazing. its really amazes me what this man can do with the power of his voice. maybe he can be the next Morgan freeman or the next best narrator in movie history!

  26. Standing at the center of death
    and drinking himself sick
    started out as an apprentice looking for a job
    and ended up a cold killer, wife-beater
    hungry for money
    killing for money

  27. Hearing the poem from Quincy Troupe brings poetry to another level, it brings in deep emotions not only through his tone, but also with his usage of words, and the repetition of certain phrases just so the reader can realize how really listen to what Quincy is saying about big tom’s life. The ending message here is after years and years of killing and drinking tom, a guy who at one point of life was good was made into a bad and cold guy.

  28. I like the way Quincy Troupe recites his poems. If I would have just read the poem myself I wouldn’t have gotten the full effect the reader gets when listening to Troupe read it. He brings this dark, emotional feel to it that really helps the audience connect with his work. Quincy Troupe has a way with words that captures his audience in a way other writers don’t, I enjoy listening to his poems.

  29. Quincy Troupe has such a unique way of capturing the readers attention and providing this vivid, rich and imaginative imagery that helps the reader establish a better conection with the author. I really felt the fear and rush in this poem, Great read.

  30. This is a very unique poem because of how it is being told. The piano in the background made this poem more dramatic and emphasized the thesis of the poem. His repitition in the poem was a very good idea for this poem.

  31. I can tell you that Quincy Troupe has a special way in letting the readers feel the wild emotions while reading his poems! This poems was super fast, but deadly. I felt fear, but in a way that I just kept on running and running! Every word that he spoke was vivid in my mind, pretty crazy!

  32. My initial emotion was FEAR after hearing the poem. The vivid image of a desensitized man working three decades slaughtering animals for a living is frightening. That a man may take the pressure of his job out on society and wreck havoc is heart breaking but honestly not so far fetched.
    I found the rhythmic style of the poem engaging and entertaining, very animated in the delivery. I love Quincy Troope’s poetry.

    Very glad I was exposed to this!

  33. Quincy Troupe poems fit my style of writing rather then James Autry. Troupe paints a vivid descriptive picture into the readers head while in the meantime telling a story. His stories also include suspense through the way in which he implements his words. I am a believer that “Language is Alive” (Q.Troupe)

  34. I like Quincy Troupe’s poem styles. He is a very talented person, i like how Quincy Troupe rhyme his poem.

  35. This poem was just all sround crazy to me. the way that troup used the words to create an image for the reader is something that i thought made the poem so good.

  36. Just like his other poems Quincy Troupe makes his poems very intense and vivid. I like the way he repeats some phrases so its hard to miss the important stuff happening during the poem. I agree with Tanya Romero ever since I heard him in class I became really interested in his poems because his poems are really interesting.

  37. I like the way he gives enfaces to the words by repetition and tone, such technique is very effective in living its mark with the reader or listener because the words keep resonating long after.

  38. I am not a big fan of poetry but hearing Quincy Troupe read his own poem got me interested. He reads his poems with a great amount of energy which just draws the reader in. Once the reader is drawn in he puts even more energy into his poem and makes his poem that much better.

  39. I like how visual Quincy Troupe can be with his words. His constant use of repitition really helps you remember and notice how much “Big Tom” went through.

  40. I like this poem. I mean I reeeeally like this poem. It has a lot of power in its words. The message is clear as well that death can change a man. Especially doing the killing yourself even if they are slaughtering cows it changes a man. I loved when Quincy Jones read it aloud in the video. His passion for poetry is keeping poetry alive today I wish I could have met him here last year.

  41. with this poe, you truly visualize it, experience it and sense it, how can anyone do this you ask? quincey troupe can and when he does you know it, great poem. quincey is the man.

  42. I pretty much fell in love with Quincey Troupe’s poetry when we were shown that video on the first day in class. It is unlike any poetry I have heard before. There is just something about his rhythm. I feel like his poems have soul and its hard not to be infected by them, especially when he is the one reading them. He brings them to an entirely new level when he performs them because he has such incredible energy and passion.

  43. I really enjoyed this poem due to its well put together tone and rhythm. It is really sad however seeing someone being pushed to the point of violence.

  44. The poem itself is amazing, but when you hear him read it, the poem just comes alive. This poem really hits home the image that has been worked to mental exhaustion by his highly violent job. It’s no wonder he snaps after all those years.

  45. Quincy is very detailed with this poem and I can pretty much visualize everything he’s saying. You can tell this poem has a lot of meaning to him and is very significant.

  46. This is a great poem. Every thing that is talked about and described, I can actually visualize it.

  47. Very opening poem expressing how a certain work environment can really change a person. It give some much detail and really explains to a person what is the person really going through. Killing an animal is something has to do because we all love eating meat but we never think about that person really killing that person.

  48. Quincy Troupe makes full use of emotional words to draw in the reader and help to address the issues of the human expereince. By using stereotypes to draw the reader in and then deconstructing the assumtions it allows you to relate to his story and see the circumstance from a different point of view.

  49. Its amazing how Quincy Troupe uses language, the vivid images he puts in the readers head are amazing. As I was reading the poem I could literary see Tom out in the packing house killing all those animals soaked in blood and flesh. I think its sad how some roles that people take in society can turn a person into a cruel violent individual.

  50. Quincy Troop is a genius with his poetry. He proves it once again. Troops word choice really describes the action of of Big Tom and his hammer. I also think that repetition of certain lines gave emphasis to the poem.

  51. This poem is very powerful. The words that Quincy used put younrightbin the act of the poem. I felt lie I was there in that packing house next to him as he was swinging that hammer of death. I love the creative use of words and how descriptive he was. Also his style if repeating parts made you clearly understand who and what he was talking about. By far the best poem I have read in a long time.

  52. This particular poem took me by a powerful storm. How the energy and visualization of the words and how one could really see the poem unfold before their very own eyes. The daily grind of a hard working man and how his work is all what he knows and neglects the responsibility of being a husband, father, role model, etc. It is sort of mesmerizing how a person is programed by the elements of his or her job and becomes a product of that particular job. Not knowing anything else. What are the reasons behind a person being such a monster and not realizing the damage that he has ensued, especially his family. It begs the question how much of an impact society really has on an individual and wither one can be so primitive in this time and age. The resemblance brings home the issue currently faced with veterans returning from either Afghanistan or Iraq and seeing the actions that have surfaced by these men.

  53. I completely agree with Lino Flores, ever since we listened to Quincy Troupe in class I was hooked to his poems and how they just grab you and keep you there. I like how his words really do come to life and you can see what is going on in the poem. I am so glad I was exposed to this great poet. He makes me want to start creative writing and just express my emotions in words. He makes it look easy and like it will free you from all that you’ve been carrying. He is an amazing poet.

  54. Poetry is not my thing, but this poem “River Town Packin House Blues” written by Quincy Troupe is the exception. I like the narrative style that Troupe employs, for instance, at the opening of the poem he starts with the following words, “big tom was a black nigga man cold & black eye say, big tom was a black nigga man black steel flesh”. Also, another feature that I like about this poem is the immediate explosiveness and energy that he transmits with his word choice and receptiveness. His technique is quite effective, because it can intrigue a non poetry lover like me to listen and enjoy his art.

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