Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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!

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

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: culture, christmas, family, fun, river, sometimes, power, children, work, green, wind, sea, dream, child

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  • Patricia Grantham (4/24/2014 8:35:00 AM)

    Truly a great and exceptional write. His use of language
    back in the day plus lines laced with simplicity
    is authentic. Powerful words yet softens the senses.
    A gifted read. (Report) Reply

  • Simone Callender-lindo (4/29/2013 4:58:00 PM)

    Absolutely amazing. The poem speaks of the African-American soprano Mary Violet Leontyne Price. As i always say Langston Hughes is so deep, he plays on words and even uses a foreign language (German) . His social commentary of the time was eloquently done. I love this poem. (Report) Reply

  • grame peele (11/17/2011 4:09:00 AM)

    the best poem i have ever read in my life on the theme of poverty and discrimination (Report) Reply

  • Elizabeth Marston (12/6/2009 2:55:00 PM)

    open conversations
    fluttering hearts
    suddenly a lingering sensation
    a smack that smarts

    A key is unearthed
    a door unlocked '
    a memory long forgotten
    is given new birth

    we see where we've been
    we look at the past
    and suddenly our sins
    have a root at last

    so it begins (Report) Reply

  • Ema B (11/3/2009 5:12:00 AM)

    your so awesome, loved this poem was a great eye opener! (Report) Reply

  • Sophia Pone (1/25/2008 9:49:00 AM)

    YOU ROCK! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

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