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DINNER GUEST: ME

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Dinner Guest: Me

By Langston Hughes

 

I know I am
The Negro Problem
Being wined and dined,
Answering the usual questions
That come to white mind
Which seeks demurely
To Probe in polite way
The why and wherewithal
Of darkness U.S.A.--
Wondering how things got this way
In current democratic night,
Murmuring gently
Over fraises du bois,
"I'm so ashamed of being white."

The lobster is delicious,
The wine divine,
And center of attention
At the damask table, mine.
To be a Problem on
Park Avenue at eight
Is not so bad.
Solutions to the Problem,
Of course, wait. 

 

Langston Hughes was a part of the Harlem Renaissance poetic movement  I was deeply moved after reading this poem.   I almost didn't write my poem.  How dare I compare mere emotionalism to polite prejudice... and the weight of racism, slavery, injustice, the continuous battle to achieve true emancipation?   Still, I saw that there is a slight similarity as those who are "well-meaning" are innocently insensitive, sit in a position of priviledge and dole out what they believe is kindness.  So, this was written in response...

 

 

(After Langston Hughes) I hadn’t known my infertility was their problem; The adult table contracts from a toddler’s wide wobble while over a gavel — I mean, a rattle — and in between chip resistant plates advice is served, lukewarm. “You’re trying too hard,” says the pregnant one who glows like a dim nightlight. Another nurses as though she was the one feeding off the babe and why, why couldn’t the loud suckling swallow her oblivious “I get pregnant if he just looks at me. I couldn’t even imagine being barren.” A girl’s head gilds jeaned thighs with the sweet piercing of curls, but the mother sighs “Go on, now" and to me quips “I should just give you one of mine.” Then the cake is lit, another year has passed away. Happy Birthday to you and you and you — It hollows me from the outside in. Tonight soundlessly breaks. The tot eyes the trick candle, makes a wish. Wait and wait and wait and...

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017




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Date: 4/22/2020 8:45:00 AM
This is exceptional.
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Date: 7/10/2018 8:32:00 PM
Hey just checking on you. How goes the novel?
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Date: 1/29/2018 1:11:00 PM
You have spoken beautifully and fairly. A wonderful piece.
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Date: 12/13/2017 1:58:00 PM
Love (perhaps the wrong word for a painful truth) the JUX here...that analogy that cannot be "compared"? Yet we must realize that most people are stupid, at the very least in their attempts to be "understanding" when they barely, or not at all, understand themselves, but mostly because they could have no way to comprehend what they have never truly experienced. Love what you have done here with this feeling because you are one who truly gets it.
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