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From the Dark Tower

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Nor always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.
The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall.
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.


A Southern Road

Yolk-colored tongue
Parched beneath a burning sky,
A lazy little tune
Hummed up the crest of some
Soft sloping hill.
One streaming line of beauty
Flowing by a forest Pregnant with tears.
A hidden nest for beauty
Idly flung by God
In one lonely lingering hour
Before the Sabbath.
A blue-fruited black gum,
Like a tall predella,
Bears a dangling figure,-
Sacrificial dower to the raff,
Swinging alone,
I solemn, tortured shadow in the air.


Jungle Taste

There is a coarseness
In the songs of black men
Coarse as the songs
Of the sea.
There is a weird strangeness
In the songs of black men
Which sounds not strange
To me.
There is beauty
In the faces of black women,
Jungle beauty
And mystery.
Dark, hidden beauty
In the faces of black women
Which only black men See.



Trees are the souls of men
Reaching skyward.
And while each soul
Draws nearer God
Its dark roots cleave
To earthly sod:
Death, only death
Brings triumph to the soul.
The silent grave alone
Can bare the goal.
Then roots and all Must lie forgot
To rot.


The Death Bed

All the time they were praying
He watched the shadow of a tree
Flicker on the wall.
There is no need of prayer,
He said,
No need at all.
The kin-folk thought it strange
That he should ask them from a dying bed.
But they left all in a row
And it seemed to ease him
To see them go.
There were some who kept on praying
In a room across the hall
And some who listened to the breeze
That made the shadows waver
On the wall.
He tried his nerve
On a song he knew
And made an empty not
That might have come,
From a bird's harsh throat.
And all the time it worried him
That they were in there praying And all the time he wondered
What it was they could be saying.


Elevator Boy

I got a job now
Runnin' an elevator
In the Dennison Hotel in Jersey,
Job aint no good though.
No money around.
Jobs are just chances
Like everything else.
Maybe a little luck now,
Maybe not.
Maybe a good job sometimes:
Step out o' he barrel, boy.
Two new suits an'
A woman to sleep with.
Maybe no luck for a long time.
Only the elevators
Goin' up an' down,
Up an' down,
Or somebody else's shoes
To shine
Or greasy pots in a dirty kitchen.
I been runnin' this Elevator too long.
Guess Iíll quit now.


Railroad Avenue

Dusk dark
On Railroad Avenue.
Lights in the fish joints,
Lights in the pool rooms.
A box car some train Has forgotten
In the middle of the block.
A player piano, A victrola.
942 Was the number.
A boy
Lounging on the corner.
A passing girl
With purple powdered skin.
Like a taut drum.
Neither truth nor lie.
Hardening the dusk dark evening.
Shaking the lights in the fish joints,
Rolling white balls in the pool rooms,
And leaving untouched the box car
Some train has forgotten.


Length of Moon

Then the golden hour
Will tick its last
And the flame will go down in the flower.
A briefer length of moon
Will mark the sea-line and the yellow dune.
Then we may think of this, yet
There will be something forgotten
And something we should forget.
It will be like all things we know:
A stone will fail; a rose is sure to go.
It will be quiet then and we may stay Long at the picket gateó
But there will be less to say.


Little Cinderella

Look me over, kid!
I knows I'm neat,
Little Cinderella from head to feet.
Drinks all night at Club Alabam,
What comes next I don't give a damn!
Daddy, daddy,
You sho' looks keen!
I likes men that are long and lean.
Broad Street ain't got no brighter lights
Than your eyes at pitch midnight.

Lewis Alexander


Avenues of dreams
Boulevards of pain
Moving black streams
Shimmering like rain.

Lewis Alexander