Rock-a-by baby—higher an’ higher!
Mammy is sleepin’ an’ daddy’s run lame...
(Soun’ may yuh sleep in yo’ cradle o’ fire!)
Rock-a-by baby, hushed in the flame...
(An incident of the East St. Louis Race Riots, when some white women flung a living colored baby into the heart of a blazing fire.)
Snow wraiths circle us
Like washers of the dead,
Flapping their white wet cloths
About the grizzled head,
Where the coarse hair mats like grass,
And the efficient wind
With cold professional baste
Probes like a lancet
Through the cotton shirt...
About us are white cliffs and space.
No façades show,
Nor roof nor any spire...
All sheathed in snow...
The parasitic snow
That clings about them like a blight.
Only detached lights
Float hazily like greenish moons,
Down the whore-street,
Accouched and comforted and sleeping warm,
The blizzard waltzes with the night.
THE WOMAN WITH JEWELS
The woman with jewels sits in the cafe, Spraying light like a fountain. Diamonds glitter on her bulbous fingers And on her arms, great as thighs, Diamonds gush from her ear-lobes over the goitrous throat. She is obesely beautiful. Her eyes are full of bleared lights, Like little pools of tar, spilled by a sailor in mad haste for shore... And her mouth is scarlet and full—only a little crumpled— like a flower that has been pressed apart...
Why does she come alone to this obscure basement—
She who should have a litter and hand-maidens to support her
on either side?
She ascends the stairway, and the waiters turn to
look at her,
spilling the soup.
The black satin dress is a little lifted, showing the dropsical legs
in their silken fleshings...
The mountainous breasts tremble...
There is an agitation in her gems,
That quiver incessantly, emitting trillions of fiery rays...
She erupts explosive breaths...
Every step is an adventure
The serpent’s tooth
I have known only my own shallows—
Safe, plumbed places,
Where I was wont to preen myself.
But for the abyss
I wanted a plank beneath
I was afraid of the silence
And the slipping toe-hold...
Oh, could I now dive
Into the unexplored deeps of me—
Delve and bring up and give
All that is submerged, encased, unfolded,
That is yet the best.
ART AND LIFE
When Art goes bounding, lean,
Up hill-tops fired green
To pluck a rose for life.
Life like a broody hen
Cluck-clucks him back again.