tagNon-Erotic Poetryan Ode to Claude McKay

an Ode to Claude McKay


How I think of you today!,
my Claude McKay,
as we lost wander the homeless streets of Portland,
feeling our alienage from modernity’s “unnumbered works and ways,”
our nerves frayed by all the flashing lights,
our heart beats syncopated jes like de midnight jazz of your Harlem days.

How the everywhere wild bananas of Jamacia must have haunted you,
(day after day)
as you bussed tables and hacked at roast beef,
(the engines always snorting)
soaring past everything:
musky pine woods filling up with snow,
puritan town diners where You couldn’t get a Coke,
past soothing pink African ladies
(past a night you couldn’t stay.)

Your horror,
you brilliant wandering troubadour,
I know something of,
Though me skin be white as Noah’s doves.
I, too, took the road less traveled,
and sigh with you
though ages hence:

two free-thinking rhinos at an electric fence.

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