Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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Brass Spittoons


Clean the spittoons, boy.
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars
Buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
My God!
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
And house rent to pay.
Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished—
At least I can offer that.
Com’mere, boy!

Submitted: Saturday, March 27, 2010

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  • Claude H Oliver Ii (11/18/2013 1:20:00 PM)

    Life at society's bottom rung - cleaning the residue of those more fortunate. One man's garbage can be another one's gold or certainly his livelihood. (Report) Reply

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