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A Poem by Langston Hughes: Cultural Exchange

James Mercer Langston Hughe-1

 

Cultural Exchange

In the Quarter of the Negroes
Where the doors are doors of paper
Dust of dingy atoms
Blows a scratchy sound.
Amorphous jack-o’-Lanterns caper
And the wind won’t wait for midnight
For fun to blow doors down.
By the river and the railroad
With fluid far-off goind
Boundaries bind unbinding
A whirl of whisteles blowing.
No trains or steamboats going–
Yet Leontyne’s unpacking.

In the Quarter of the Negroes
Where the doorknob lets in Lieder
More than German ever bore,
Her yesterday past grandpa–
Not of her own doing–
In a pot of collard greens
Is gently stewing.

Pushcarts fold and unfold
In a supermarket sea.
And we better find out, mama,
Where is the colored laundromat
Since we move dup to Mount Vernon.

In the pot begind the paper doors
on the old iron stove what’s cooking?
What’s smelling, Leontyne?
Lieder, lovely Lieder
And a leaf of collard green.
Lovely Lieder, Leontyne.

You know, right at Christmas
They asked me if my blackness,
Would it rub off?
I said, Ask your mama.

Dreams and nightmares!
Nightmares, dreams, oh!
Dreaming that the Negroes
Of the South have taken over–
Voted all the Dixiecrats
Right out of power–

Comes the COLORED HOUR:
Martin Luther King is Governor of Georgia,
Dr. Rufus Clement his Chief Adviser,
A. Philip Randolph the High Grand Worthy.
In white pillared mansions

Sitting on their wide verandas,
Wealthy Negroes have white servants,
White sharecroppers work the black plantations,
And colored children have white mammies:
Mammy Faubus
Mammy Eastland
Mammy Wallace
Dear, dear darling old white mammies–
Sometimes even buried with our family.
Dear old
Mammy Faubus!

<i>Culture, they say, is a two-way street:</i>
Hand me my mint julep, mammny.
Hurry up!
Make haste!

 

Langston Hughes

 

James Mercer Langston Hughe-2

 

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