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Langston Hughes Poems

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Feet o' Jesus

At the feet o' Jesus,
Sorrow like a sea.
Lordy, let yo' mercy
Come driftin' down on me.

At the feet o' Jesus
At yo' feet I stand.
O, ma little Jesus,
Please reach out yo' hand.


Trumpet Player

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighs

The negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet—
were jet a crown

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire—

Desire
that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight's but a spotlight
in his eyes,
desire
that is longing for the sea
where the sea's a bar-glass
sucker size

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

It's hypodermic needle
to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
trouble
mellows to a golden note


I Continue To Dream

I take my dreams and make of them a bronze vase
and a round fountain with a beautiful statue in its center.
And a song with a broken heart and I ask you:
Do you understand my dreams?
Sometimes you say you do,
And sometimes you say you don't.
Either way it doesn't matter.
I continue to dream.


For Selma


In places like
Selma, Alabama,
Kids say,
    In places like
    Chicago and New York...
In places like
Chicago and New York
Kids say,
    In places like
    London and Paris...
In places like
London and Paris
Kids say,
    In places like
    Chicago and New York...




Silence

I catch the pattern
Of your silence
Before you speak

I do not need
To hear a word.

In your silence
Every tone I seek
Is heard.


Ardella

I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.


Catch

Big Boy came
Carrying a mermaid
On his shoulders
And the mermaid
Had her tail
Curved
Beneath his arm.


Being a fisher boy,
He’d found a fish
To carry—
Half fish,
Half girl
To marry.


When Sue Wears Red

When Susanna Jones wears red
her face is like an ancient cameo
Turned brown by the ages.
Come with a blast of trumphets, Jesus!

When Susanna Jones wears red
A queen from some time-dead Egyptian night
Walks once again.
Blow trumphets, Jesus!

And the beauty of Susanna Jones in red
Burns in my heart a love-fire sharp like a pain.
Sweet silver trumphets, Jesus!


Brass Spittoons

Clean the spittoons, boy.
      Detroit,
      Chicago,
      Atlantic City,
      Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
      Hey, boy!
      A nickel,
      A dime,
      A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
      Hey, boy!
      A nickel,
      A dime,
      A dollar,
      Two dollars
Buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
      My God!
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
And house rent to pay.
      Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
      Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished—
At least I can offer that.
      Com’mere, boy!


50-50

I’m all alone in this world, she said,
Ain’t got nobody to share my bed,
Ain’t got nobody to hold my hand—
The truth of the matter’s
I ain’t got no man.


Big Boy opened his mouth and said,
Trouble with you is
You ain’t got no head!
If you had a head and used your mind
You could have me with you
All the time.


She answered, Babe, what must I do?


He said, Share your bed—
And your money, too.


Oppression


Now dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs
To the singers.

In some lands
Dark night
And  cold steel
Prevail
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Break
Its jail.


Walkers With The Dawn

Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness—
Being walkers with the sun and morning.


Gods

The ivory gods,
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamond and jade,
Sit silently on their temple shelves
While the people
Are afraid.
Yet the ivory gods,
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamond-jade,
Are only silly puppet gods
That the people themselves
Have made.


Minstrel Man

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long?

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry?
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die?


Still Here

been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
  Snow has friz me,
  Sun has baked me,

Looks like between 'em they done
  Tried to make me

Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'—
  But I don't care!
  I'm still here!




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