Friday, February 14, 2014

***Poet’s Corner- Langston Hughes 

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

February is Black History Month

This was the limit. That exact thought and no other crossed Louise Crawford’s mind as she fumed, fumed for the third time that week waiting, waiting for his lordship, his budding poet lordship, to show up sometime in the next decade so that he could take her to the Red Hat where the Earl and the boys were playing some heavy noted jazz that week. No, no Crawford  was ever on this great earth to be kept waiting, for anything under any circumstances, and she would make that abundantly clear to him when he arrived, if he did arrive. (Yes that Crawford of the Wall Street financiers Crawford she, Louise the youngest daughter, twenty-two, if anybody was asking.)  Of course, she recognized the double-standard, although only recognized it and would not be enslaved to it any more than any other twenty-two year old woman would be, that she was more than willing to play her own fashionably late card when it suited her, especially among her old boarding school friends who made something of a science of the custom.
She, moreover, did not care, did not care one whit, that he, Jesse to give him a name, was somebody’s protégé , some friend of Mabel Dodge’s granddaughter or something like that, and the greatest poet, the greatest black poet since, what was his name, oh yes, Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance back in the Jazz Age or something (not real jazz, not from what she had heard on old records but more stuff to please the booze-swilling patrons, not like today with Earl, and walking daddies like Earl, and their cool, ultra-cool be-bop, be-bop sound). She had had her full string of Greenwich Village hipsters, or want-to-be- hipsters,of every variety and she had had a veritable United Nations of lovers from the time she had turned eighteen and learned the karma sutra arts (and liked them) from poet prince Jesse back to Bob, the Jewish folksinger, and before him, Jim the jug band guy, and let’s see, Julio the painter, Michelangelo the sculptor (no, not that old time one), Betty, the writer (just a crush and trying something new when some guy, a trumpet player so it figured, introduced her to sister and to some low-life sex stuff), Lothario the high-wire artist and juggler, and, well you know, a lot of very interesting people.

Of course Jesse was her first negro, oops, black lover. (She remembered one night when she called him that, negro, “the greatest Negro poet since Langston Hughes,” when she introduced him to friends at a party and later he yelled holy hell at her saying that he was a black man, a black son of Mother Africa and that his people were creating stuff, human progress stuff, when her people were figuring out how to use a spoon, and trying to figure out why anyone would use such a thing if they could figure it out. He said if he was in Mexico or Spain and was called that it would be okay, okay maybe, but in America he was black, a sable warrior, black. And had been black since Pharaoh times. Later that night he wrote his well-received In Pharaoh Times to blow off the madness steam he still felt toward her). And being her first black lover she gave him some room knowing that he was an artist, and he really was good in bed but this standing up thing was just not done, not done to a Crawford and so she determined that she would give him his walking papers.
Just then she remembered, remembered the last time, that second time he, Jesse, had kept her waiting and the next day, as an act of contrition, he had written his lovely poem Louise Love In Quiet Time for her that some Village poetry journal was all aflutter to publish (and that she had re-read constantly). So maybe tonight she would not give him his walking papers…


Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve's eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

Langston Hughes


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