Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 12

River Crossing

for Langston Hughes

My descent
is to the South.

And it makes my pen itch
with anxiety.
For I have spent days
holding my breath
rattling alongside
white faces only
to enter a world of

I am following your gridwork
like a good son with
similar coloring.
But I know I would map
out those lines
ineffectually on large blue
carbonized paper.
You cannot edit mistakes like that.
I could have
been the man who connected
our two lives with this railway.
But the heat of that work
makes me want to undo my collar
and then never wear one again.

And instead, I will write pages,
for you.

Pages covered with stories
made of the black
and the white.

It will fill the time while, I,
a man of 18, come with news
of how I plan on charting my life.

I will write pages for you, Father,
will you read them?
This is what I wish to do-
This, is my livelihood.

Black letters rising,
escaping, transcending,
and then transmuting
to gold on the
barren, blank,
white page.
Why do you abhor us?

Sadness filling me,
I am remembering how you refuse to even attempt
an Exodus.

Your brown desert is a cut and dry refuge
from a world of black and white.

Maybe I was the one
who received the
sacraficial gene.
One that apparently
skips a generation.
and while you cower
in that shroud of denial,
remember that yours is not
covered with bloodstains
and bullet holes.

Excuse me, Father,
I must spend the last few
hours, busy at work.
The black blood
coursing through the
vein of my pen.
Escaping to,
and then from,
the two-sided
whiteness of you.
I, the Negro,
must Speak of Rivers
and crossing them.


  1. wonderful. ugh, Langston. so good. love it. <3

  2. I never know the people who you write poems for (or enough about them to understand the poems) but I love love love two parts of this poem especially.
    "I will write pages for you, Father,
    will you read them?
    This is what I wish to do-
    This, is my livelihood."
    "The black blood
    coursing through the
    vein of my pen."

  3. I hope the poems work to introduce you to them, if you don't know much going into it...
    That's how they work as stand alone. I hope that is the case.


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