My “guest poet” this time is Langston Hughes, American,1902-1967.
He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. He famously wrote about the period that “the negro was in vogue”, which was later paraphrased as “when Harlem was in vogue”. It’s a little poem I memorized long ago and sometimes recite to myself.
This town is haunted by some good deed
that reappears like a country cousin, or truth
when language falters these days trying to lie,
because Aunt Mabel, an old lady gone now, would
accost even strangers to give bright flowers
away, quick as a striking snake. It’s deeds like this
have weakened me, shaken by intermittent trust,
stricken with friendliness.
Our Senator talked like war, and Aunt Mabel
said,”He’s a brilliant man,
but we didn’t elect him that much.”
Everyone’s resolve weakens toward evening
or in a flash when a face melds—a stranger’s, even—
reminded for an instant between menace and fear:
There are Aunt Mabels all over the world,
or their graves in the rain.