Tag Archives: ghetto poetry

I’ve put down my beautiful cape: a poem

I’ve put down my beautiful cape
the bulls can chase me through the streets
carry me back home in gold and pink
red cloth fogged what they saw
a bearded man to flaunt
I’ve put down my beautiful cape

I’ve put down my beautiful cape
the bulls can chase me through the streets
I was so afraid what they’d say
the not-gods, I obeyed
them and the sadness
I’ve put down my beautiful cape

Countee Cullen Reading Heritage

Countee Cullen’s poetry haunts me. Cullen’s poem, “For A Poet,” is one of my favorites. The poem published in the book “Color” (1925) is used a symbol in my book, The Taste of Scars.

For A Poet

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
And laid them away in a box of gold;
Where long will cling the lips of the moth,
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth;
I hide no hate, I am not even wroth
Who found earth’s breath so keen and cold;
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
And laid them away in a box of gold.

— Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen, photographed by Carl Van Vecht...

Image via Wikipedia

This poem inspired me to write “I’ve put down my beautiful cape.” Their are different theories why Cullen wrote “For A Poet.”

“Married to W. E. B. DuBois‘s daughter Yolande in 1928 (they divorced in 1930) and Ida Roberson only six years before his death (in 1946), Cullen had a steady string of male lovers in the United States and France,” according to Alden Reimonenq, Professor of English and Chief of Staff to the President at California State University, Northridge. “Cullen was a premier member of a thriving gay coterie in Harlem. Cullen and most gays of the period were, understandably, closeted publicly. The influence of gayness on Cullen’s literary imagination can be seen through the coded references to homosexuality in much of his poetry.”

“The poems “Tableau,” “The Shroud of Color,” “Fruit of the Flower,” “For a Poet,” and “Spring Reminiscence” can be classified as gay poems in which the speaker decries the oppression of those who are different.”

One theory is that “For a Poet” was “written at a time when Cullen was embroiled in unrequited love for Langston Hughes.” Langston Hughes is a black gay icon known for writing some of the most widely read poetry to come out of the Harlem Renaissance. Other important gay and bisexual writers from that period include: “Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Wallace Thurman, and Richard Bruce Nugent” says Reimonenq.

To read more of Countee Cullen’s poems go to Poem Hunter.

Countee Cullens Poem Yet Do I Marvel Read by Todd Helens

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American reminders: a poem

Four centuries of American reminders
On my skin

Elders bare stripe welts

My inheritance from the gone
On my back

The pistol is there

We’re still
On the block

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The prostitute on Phillips Highway: a poem


Image via Wikipedia

Every car that passes
She blows her, the car, a kiss
Just stop now
She insists
A kiss
Equals a meal
Some cigarettes
She can almost taste the salt of him
A white pickup passes
She blows her, the car, a kiss
I’ll do whatever you want
As long as you want
All the way is extra
Just stop now
Car stop
I need cigarettes


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Sometimes how I find myself (in the media): a poem

flaming pink and blonde
packaged more like Barbie
not quite Ken
in-between them
an unexpectedness
that makes good folk
give him dirty looks

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the wink and the nod: a poem

I wait for it
the wink and the nod

hand to waist
it’s dark enough
for this to be ok

come this way
no come this way
he walks his way

if I walk his way
we might be seen

he walks back by
hand to waist
a nod
come this way
no come my way
he walks my way

he takes my hand
and we’re dancing
this is the first time
I’ve done anything like this

is this the right place

for two men to stand

so close




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the shadow and weight of him

as we laugh
juice drips on my thigh
from the spoon
he stole from the cafeteria

as we laugh
watching the relationship
between events
unraveling on TV
his TV
in his room

as we laugh
eating syrupy pineapples
out the can
this has already passed

what’s between us
the yellow pineapple can
none of it exists anymore

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darcy: a poem

each step. his face turns away from me.
it couldn’t be from anywhere else.
forever. to say. he turns sideways.
for now. he means.
i know forever is never forever.
it’s another word
so easy to use
can you handle me for now he says.

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