COUNTEE CULLEN (10:30)

INCIDENT

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me
.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,

And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.

47 thoughts on “COUNTEE CULLEN (10:30)”

  1. It made me aware of how much damage words and racism can do to a small child. It also shows that a poem doesn’t have to be dependent on fancy prose to be powerful. This could only have been based on real life.

  2. “The Harlem Dancer”
    -Claude McKay
    Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
    And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;
    Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
    Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
    She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
    The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
    To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm
    Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
    Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls
    Luxuriant fell; and tossing coins in praise,
    The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
    Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze;
    But looking at her falsely-smiling face,
    I knew her self was not in that strange place.

  3. Dream Deferred- Langston hughes

    What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore–
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over–
    like a syrupy sweet?
    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.
    Or does it explode?

  4. Langston Hughes – April Rain Song

    Let the rain kiss you
    Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
    Let the rain sing you a lullaby
    The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
    The rain makes running pools in the gutter
    The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
    And I love the rain.

  5. I think I see her sitting bowed and black,
    Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,
    Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet
    Still looking at the stars.

    Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,
    Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,
    Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,
    Still visioning the stars!
    -Jessie Fauset

  6. Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
    Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
    I heard a Negro play.
    Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
    By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
    He did a lazy sway. . .
    He did a lazy sway. . .
    To the tune o’ those Weary Blues.

    —Langston Hughes, “The Weary Blues”

  7. Georgia Douglas Johnson- Foredoom

    Her life was dwarfed, and wed to blight,
    Her very days were shades of night,
    Her every dream was born entombed,
    Her soul, a bud,—that never bloomed.

  8. To fling my arms wide
    In some place of the sun,
    To whirl and to dance
    Till the white day is done.
    Then rest at cool evening
    Beneath a tall tree
    While night comes on gently,
    Dark like me-
    That is my dream!

    To fling my arms wide
    In the face of the sun,
    Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
    Till the quick day is done.
    Rest at pale evening…
    A tall, slim tree…
    Night coming tenderly
    Black like me.

  9. If We Must Die
    By Claude McKay
    If we must die, let it not be like hogs
    Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
    While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
    Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
    If we must die, O let us nobly die,
    So that our precious blood may not be shed
    In vain; then even the monsters we defy
    Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
    O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
    Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
    And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
    What though before us lies the open grave?
    Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
    Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

    1. Marcus Garvey – “God In Man”

      0 weary son of sorrow great!

      How apt art thou to bow and grieve,

      And count all things thy solemn fate,

      As if thou canst not self retrieve!

      May I not tell the story true

      Of that Eternal Force that is-

      The Force that makes the world and you;

      The Force that rules and ever lives?

      Thou art the living force in part,

      The Spirit of the Mighty I;

      The God of Heaven and your heart

      Is Spirit that can never die.

      You’re what you are in heart and mind,

      Because you will it so to be;

      The man who tries himself to find,

      Is light to all, and great is he.

      In each and every one is God,

      In everything atomic life;

      There is no death beneath the sod,

      This fact, not knowing, brings the strife.

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