Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2011 Carnavals, DR

One of these days, I swear, C and I are going to experience Carnaval (or Carnival) in Dominican Republic, Brazil, Trinidad, Panama, France, somewhere!  Or even Mardi Gras (well, I've been to my native city's version of Mardi Gras, which is tiny but a lot of fun). Here are some videos from the Dominican Republic's Carnavals, which are underway. Talk about a cure for the winter doldrums (though the thaw has begun and the mountains of snow are slowly receding, but still...).

Via Monaga blog
Carnival in La Vega, Dominican Republic

Carnaval in Santiago de las Cabelleros, DR

More Dominican Carnaval videos
Carnaval in Santo Domingo Este
Carnaval in Santiago, DR (note the pack of Michael Jacksons!)

Musician Johnny Ventura singing, Carnaval in La Vega

Carnaval in La Vega

Carnaval in La Vega's Zona 2 (Hood)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Our Addressability": Claudia Rankine's Intervention @ AWP

One event that continues to reverberate now that the 2011 AWP Conference has ended is author and critic Claudia Rankine's "performance of sorts," as she called it, or intervention, as I and others have chosen to call it, concerning Tony Hoagland's racist poem "Change," at the Academy of American Poets' reading (with Charles Wright) on Thursday, January 5, 2011. I was unable to attend, but almost immediately afterward I read Tisa Bryant's short but moving report on it. Several days later, Rankine posted her remarks on her website, and so I will link to them here, and then post Tisa's report. Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of Rankine's work, but have never had the opportunity to meet her. I hope to someday soon. I also should add that before this I had never read Hoagland's poem, and in general know little about his work, though I have seen his book of essays.

Rankine's powerful, cogent remarks and intervention (click on AWP).  The final two paragraphs:

Let me just say, Claudia Rankine, thank you.

Tisa's original report of the event, which originally appeared on Facebook. I won't excerpt it, since it ought to be read in full, and has been reposted, so I think it's okay to post it here. (I have not included Hoagland's poem, which you can reach via the link above.) Tisa, thank you.

Claudia Rankine at AWP: Afterthoughts on an Emotional Experience

by Tisa Bryant on Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 9:59pm

At the start of her reading at the Omni Hotel, Claudia Rankine said she would have writer Nick Flynn read the following poem by Tony Hoagland, respond herself to the poem, then read Mr. Hoagland's response to her, then end with a closing poem.  And that's what happened.

Context & Notes:
I am not able to fully reproduce Ms. Rankine's response to the poem, or his response to that, so those who were there, or who spoke to Ms. Rankine afterward (I didn't), please add your voices to this.

Mr. Hoagland was Ms. Rankine's colleague at the time "The Change," was published.  Ms. Rankine's response deftly asked questions about what this poem said and meant, to her, to others, said about her, or others.  She began by saying something like, "I don't like to use the word 'racist'..."  but went on to unpack the images of big, black, girl, monstrosity, wrongness, whiteness, paleness, tribalness, Americanness, womanness, collegiality, and more, with the big question, "What the fuck," in trying to make sense of Hoagland's imagery.  She asked repeatedly, "Am I that Black girl?" At some point, she asked Mr. Hoagland what he meant by the poem, and he said that "the poem is for white people."  Then Ms. Rankine began questioning what that meant, or could mean, but was clear that this was her speaking for him in her imagination.  That she could not know for sure.  So she did what perhaps we don't do as often as we should (because we are often shamed for it, somehow.): she asked him what he meant.  I felt it, because it so mirrored my thought process in trying to figure out, "Is that person a racist, or am I...being emotional? Not thinking right?"

For some reason, Mr. Hoagland only had two days, prior to this event Friday, February 4, to respond to the poem, though it was clear to me (though I'm not totally sure now) that Mr. Hoagland was fully aware of and consented to his role in this dialectic in absentia.  He responded that Ms. Rankine was naive in her thinking about race and racism, that it's much worse than she seems to believe or know, that it's a problem how interrogations of race in poetry are often from a brown POV, it's a problem how readers of poems assume the speaker of the poem to be that of the poet, and it's a problem that liberal white guilty people's poems are ineffectual, dishonest and boring.  He said he'd rather get dirty up to his elbows in the muck of humanity (or racism, can't remember) than try to keep himself polite, neat and clean.  He called himself a racist and a misogynist, as well as a single mother, and a string of other identity markers I can't recall now, but were provocative in their complex contradictions.  He also said, "Is this poem for white people?  Perhaps."

Ms. Rankine ended with a poem that centered on the unfulfilled promise of America, and, it seemed to me, our current administration under President Obama, using the same phrase to start each line.  The poem, as did her initial response to Mr. Hoagland, made explicit reference to genocide of indigenous peoples in North America.

Charles Wright followed Ms. Rankine, he being the headliner of the evening, apparently.  In reading his second or third poem, he named a Chinese poet from a particular dynasty.  He said, "I took a line from this Chinese poet's work, then I laundered it.  Then I scalped it."

Ms. Rankine's presentation was bold, inspiring, very calculated, artful.  I was upset, shaken on many levels, by the entire evening, including Charles Wright's reading, but also heartened.  And confused.  As I read back, I find it disturbing how inexact my recounting of Ms. Rankine's words are, in comparison to my recall of Mr. Hoagland's.  The elegance of Ms. Rankine's interrogation of the poem, the context in which she read it, and trying to make meaning of it all, is something I felt as much as heard.  I'm reminded of one of my favorite sayings, about how nothing erases a Black woman's righteous anger faster than a white woman's tears, and here, I can replace tears with "cold, hard logic" or "objectivity," as Mr. Hoagland's response was short, terse, declarative, inelegant.  Or, I'm just a bad listener and can't remember specifics of Ms. Rankine's first response to the poem.  Still, in the construction of her presentation, her response and his, I think, I feel, that there's something quite intentional being performed here, about race and racism, authorship and authority.  I am struck by how quickly the people I was there with dispersed, also in silence, or to a safety.  In hindsight, for myself, silence was safest.  Perhaps still safe.  I hazard here to speak.  Therefore, please note that I am still processing.  So.

Should I, as in Ms. Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, take the "I" to be a fiction, a construction, the speaking voice of a creative piece, not the author herself?  Are Ms. Rankine and Mr. Hoagland in fact in agreement, that Mr. Hoagland is not a racist, but that the poem should be understood not as his voice, but as a simple act of mimesis, the amplifying mirror of white people's racism?  Does his saying "I did it on purpose, it's all intentional," absolve him of responsibility, or free him from any charge of racism, because he calls himself a racist?  Or was he, in my emotional first estimation, responding to Ms. Rankine in a patronizing way, as if she was being an emotional little girl who just wasn't thinking right, seeing right?  Ms. Rankine's presentation certainly made these questions clear, and totally subverted the down home western pastoral romance (my view) of Charles Wright's poems.  Or, I just couldn't listen to them without populating his landscape with Chinese launderers, bloody scalps and hanging trees.
Here is Sarah Jaffe's response, "The Condition of Being Addressable: A Response to Claudia Rankine at AWP." Thank you, Sarah Jaffe. A quote:

Hoagland may be aware of the legacy of racism in this country, but he is unaccountable to the power that that legacy has bequeathed to him. And one aspect of that power is the power to name (“We suffer from the condition of being addressable”). In “The Change,” when Hoagland employed an array of racist, exoticizing stereotypes to describe the black tennis player, he flaunted that power. He used language irresponsibly and stridently, without regard for where it fell. If there is another language, an alternate discourse, that can possibly ever serve as a challenge to the dominant mode of careless naming, it is one that illuminates, at every step how connected we all are to each other, and to the institutions in which we live with, in, and in spite of. That is the language that Claudia Rankine practices and one that I was so grateful and moved to hear.

Here is Laura Hartmark's response, "How Tony Hoagland Renames Hate as Change." Thank you, Laura Hartmark.  A quote:

A poem that addresses race and racism by accurately depicting a reality and asking what can be done to repair what has gone wrong may appropriately be entitled, “Change.” Hoagland’s poem is more appropriately entitled, “Hate.” But to call it what it is, there would have to be an admission of racist hatred, and said admission is sadly absent from the poem.

Lastly, there are some readers who defend the poem by stating that it exposes how things are. To that, I can only quote Anaïs Nin: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
I am still thinking about all of this, though I think the core of Rankine's response, and Hartmark's critique, offer valuable ways of approaching a work like Hoagland's poem. Claudia Rankine has since posted this open call for responses on her site, so this might be a way of responding:

Dear friends,

As many of you know I responded to Tony Hoagland’s poem “The Change” at AWP. I also solicited from Tony a response to my response. Many informal conversations have been taking place online and elsewhere since my presentation of this dialogue. This request is an attempt to move the conversation away from the he said-she said vibe toward a discussion about the creative imagination, creative writing and race.

If you have time in the next month please consider sharing some thoughts on writing about race (1-5 pages).

Here are a few possible jumping off points:

- If you write about race frequently what issues, difficulties, advantages, and disadvantages do you negotiate?

- How do we invent the language of racial identity--that is, not necessarily constructing the "scene of instruction" about race, but create the linguistic material of racial speech/thought?

- If you have never written consciously about race why have you never felt compelled to do so?

- If you don’t consider yourself in any majority how does this contribute to how race enters your work?

- If fear is a component of your reluctance to approach this subject could you examine that in a short essay that would be made public?

- If you don’t intend to write about race but consider yourself a reader of work dealing with race what are your expectations for a poem where race matters?

- Do you believe race can be decontextualized, or in other words, can ideas of race be constructed separate from their history?

- Is there a poem you think is particularly successful at inventing the language of racial dentity or at dramatizing the site of race as such? Tell us why.

In short, write what you want.  But in the interest of constructing a discussion pertinent to the more important issue of the creative imagination and race, please do not reference Tony or me in your writings.  We both served as the catalyst for this discussion but the real work as a community interested in this issue begins with our individual assessments.  

If you write back to me by March 11, 2011, one month from today, with “OPEN LETTER” in the subject heading I will post everything on the morning of the 15th of March. Feel free to pass this on to your friends. Please direct your thoughts to

In peace,

Friday, February 11, 2011

“It’s the beginning": Egyptians Write Their Destiny

He's gone! As per the wishes of a majority of the Egyptian people, President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak today officially and fully vacated his office. An Egyptian military council is now (temporarily?) running the government, and though it unclear what will happen next, including with Omar Suleiman, the current vice president and former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), that country's CIA. But what is clear is that two and half weeks of sustained brave public protests by Egyptians, in Cairo, in Alexandria, in Suez, and other cities, and just a few weeks ago met with horrific violence by the government's supporters and agents, have resulted finally in Mubarak's ouster, after 30 years of dictatorship, with the wholehearted support, financial, political and military, of the United States and other Western nations. As I wrote in an earlier blogpost this year on the unfolding situation in Tunisia, the successful protesters there unleashed a political, social and discursive djinn that cannot be put back in the bottle. Mubarak's abrupt resignation today followed his defiance yesterday when, as protesters filled Cairo's Tahrir Square and Egyptians and international reporters expected him to step down, based in part on the military's public assurances, he announced on TV to widespread outrage that he wasn't going to bow to foreign pressure. But it was the military's hand, and the popular will, embodied by the millions of Egyptians of all backgrounds who refused to back down, that forced Mubarak out. (According to some unconfirmed reports, Egypt's federal legislature, dominated by Mubarak's party, has been dissolved.) Egyptians have been celebrating all day and, if the military keeps its promise, will continue to, no matter how messy and complicated the democracy that follows turns out to be, but people across northern Africa and the Middle East are now looking at their own dictator-despots and thinking perhaps their time is up as well. As for the dictator-despots, they also perhaps are considering that their longtime ally, the US, can just as easily cut them loose.  Perhaps we Americans will also take note and start refusing to stand by as our civil liberties are systematically and increasingly gutted; our hard-earned tax dollars end up in the financial casinos and underwrite the lavish lifestyles of corporate executives who think nothing of the workers of this country; war criminals walk the streets freely and give each other awards without the slightest fear of legal sanction; our Constitution continues to be gutted by people who believe that their wealth absolves them of the rule of law; and the executive, legislative and judicial branches work almost wholly on behalf of oligarchs and plutocrats, and thumbing their noses at the vast majority of us. May the people of Egypt continue to write their destiny with their own hands, and let us learn once again to do the same.
Ed Ou for The New York Times
Demonstrators in Cairo rejoiced Friday upon hearing that President Hosni Mubarak had been toppled after 18 days of protests against his government.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Case of the Purloined Langston of DC

A poet (I have known for half my adult life, and not least for his prestidigitory skills) decided to engage in his own form of protest during the Associated Writing Programs conference.

At Busboys and Poets, a popular DC-area bookstore, there once stood a cardboard cutout of Langston Hughes as a busboy, his occupation when he was a young poet and working at the Wardman Park Hotel, the main venue of the AWP conference.

And then, one night, while the conference was underway, the cardboard cutout disappeared in the company of a certain poet, a native of DC, a former resident of Boston, Providence and Cleveland, and now a denizen of New York City and its environs (cf. below right, photo: Graywolf Press): Thomas Sayers Ellis.

(I was in Busboys and Poets on Thursday evening, after the Encyclopedia reading, and must confess that I neither noticed the cardboard Langston nor his absence this time. I should add that when in DC I have seldom spent time at the store, which has a great selection of work and delicious, affordable food, and have never read or been invited to read there. I was there during the last Split This Rock conference, in 2010.)

Another poet, of considerable note, noted to the bookstore and performance space's owner that he had seen said Hughes, at the Wardman Park Hotel no less, arm in arm with the purloiner-protester. Neither, it's fair to say, was bussing.

The poet says he transported the cardboard Hughes because the spot, which does sponsor poets in residence and pays readers a $50 fee could and should pay these artists better. "You would think that an establishment that makes as much money as Busboys would have set in place a reading series with a respectful pay scale for writers."

A cellphone photo of stand-in Hughes has reached Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal (below left), but his whereabouts remain known only to the poet, and stand-in Hughes.

According to the Washington Post, Shallal says he is going to get another Hughes to stand in his window. Perhaps the purloiner-protester will host or at least participate in a reading at Busboys and Poets in the future at which the original cardboard Hughes also makes a reappearance. And will, like any poets or writers reading at the spot, get a bit more cash for his efforts. I think the real Hughes would strongly approve.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Walking Poem: A March Against Censorship

On Friday afternoon, after spending a little time at the university's info table, talking up the MA/MFA program and Triquarterly Online, I headed to the corner of Connecticut Ave. and Woodley Road, just up the block from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel and a stone's throw from the National Zoo to join the participants in SAYING IT: A Walking Poem Against Censorship. Co-organized by Cara Benson, Caroline Crumpacker, Tina Darragh, Jennifer Karmin, and Dana Teen Lomax as part of the Belladonna* Collaborative, and reprising Jennifer Karmin's 2006 Walking Poem Project in Chicago, nearly a dozen people, joined at various points by DC residents themselves, walked through the chilly but picturesque Washington streets to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Monument at M St. NW, just a few blocks down from Dupont Circle (a place where I spent many a day and night in my youth), for a moment of silence, a reading of the US Bill of Rights and the UN Charter on Human Rights, and some of the impromptu poems that passersby and participants along the way (including at the conference) had drafted.  We also answered inquiries from people we encountered about what "censorship" meant (letting them know that all of the marchers were not in agreement about either the meaning of the term), received a good deal of affirmation from younger people, and talked among ourselves about the importance of political action of this sort at an increasingly institutionalized even like AWP, in which networking and politicking assume increasing importance. Many thanks to the organizers, fellow participants, and everyone who joined us, even temporarily, honked, smiled, or even registered what this little intervention was trying to get across.
Walking Poem participants (a march against censorship)
Caroline Crumpacker, Dana Teen Lomax, Jennifer Karmin & David Emanuel
Walking Poem participants (a march against censorship) 
DC poets Phyllis Rosenzweig & Tina Darragh, collecting impromptu poems
Walking Poem participants (a march against censorship)
Rosenzweig and Darragh talking and walking with a DC resident

Bob Marley Day

(Nesta Robert) Bob Marley was born today in 1945, in Nine Mile, Saint Ann, Jamaica, and died on May 11, 1981, in Miami, Florida. It goes without saying that he was and remains one of the most influential musicians, artists, political figures, in 20th century black diasporic and global history.  It's almost hard to believe that nearly 30 years have passed since he did.  In tribute, here are a few videos of his work, which, like his words and spirit, continue to inspire, enlighten, empower, and entertain.

Get Up Stand Up, Live, in Dortmund

Zion Train

Concrete Jungle

Is This Love?

Redemption Song, Live, in Dortmund


Natural Mystic

Friday, February 04, 2011

Encyclopedia 2/War Diaries Reading @ AWP

It's February, it's winter quarter, it's the time of the year when I don't have time to breathe. But I did manage to get to the Associated Writing Programs annual conference in Washington, DC, this past week, for two days, in part to participate in Encyclopedia's Vol. 2 F-K Launch Party, with War Diaries, the last in a series of arts-collaborative publications from AIDS Project Los Angeles.

The reading, organized by the remarkable Tisa Bryant, co-editor both of Encyclopedia (with Kate Schatz and Miranda Mellis) and of War Diaries (with Ernest Hardy) took place on Thursday night at the DC Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities, and the lineup included Samiya Bashir (Encyclo & War Diaries), A. Naomi Jackson, Jen Hofer, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Reggie Harris (Reggie H.!), Robin Coste Lewis, Vanessa Place, Terese Swoboda, Bronwen Tate, Kevin Simmons, Sarah Fran Wisby, and Matias Viegener.  It was an honor to read with this crew, and I was also very happy to present a little sunburst of Jean Wyllys's work in English. (Perhaps that was the first time anyone had done so?)

A few writers, including Duriel Harris and Bhanu Kapil, unfortunately weren't able to make to town in time to participate. (My own trip was happened truly on a few wings, a prayer, and one bad knee: I had to teach Thursday morning, so I raced to O'Hare on the post-Snowpocalyptic roads, which were still paved with snow atop a bed of ice, which meant an even longer trip than usual, only to be told that I had arrived too late to make my flight, but the American Airlines check-in agent suggested that I nevertheless go to the gate, and so after I made it through security I ran, luggage in tow, to the gate, was able to board my flight to Philadelphia, and then was able to make an even earlier connecting flight to DC, which brought me to DC National Airport with an hour to spare before the reading.  Even after gym workouts I haven't gotten as soaked with sweat as I did sprinting to my gate.) The reading packed the room, and it was especially wonderful to see writers I haven't seen in a few years or many.

Below are a few photos from the event (including one of me that Reggie took). Some of the readings are obvious, but see if you can guess what each writer actually read. If you want to know, I highly recommend the new volume, whose index alone will give you a productive brain workout, and I also recommend War Diaries, which you can order directly from AIDS Project Los Angeles.
At the Encyclopedia 2 Launch Reading, @ AWP Conference, DC
Organizer Tisa Bryant
Tisa Bryant
Naomi Jackson starting the Encyclopedia 2 Launch Reading @ AWP Conference, in DC
A. Naomi Jackson
At the Encyclopedia 2 Launch Reading, @ AWP Conference, DC 
Sueyuen Juliette Lee
At the Encyclopedia 2 Launch Reading, @ AWP Conference, DC
Vanessa Place

Paintings: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Six Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1987) chalkboard-style paintings, under the title Tuxedo, from the Paris Review's Spring 1983, No. 87 issue. When I recently came across these images, I wondered if I, during my final year of high school and first year in college, might have seen them when they first appeared, and realized that although I would scour magazines and journals like The Paris Review in search of--I don't know what? Something I hadn't seen before? Something important and adult and considered important and adult? And even carried ariound photocopies of poems, stories and interviews I found in its pages, I did not see them.  Or perhaps I could not see them--yet. It would be a few year later, while in college, that I became aware of the young black painter that people were calling a genius; who was appearing in the New York Times with Andy Warhol; whose work represented an apotheosis of the then-still-condemned and ubiquitous popular, public genre known as graffiti (art). The Radiant Man was still blazing brightly.

I love the simplicity of these works, how they present Basquiat's mature style in distilled form. They suggest the simplicity of someone sketching, chalk or spraypaint can in hand, but their compositional density and complexity shows how thoroughly Basquiat's mind (and genius), his networks of reference and relation, were at work.  Please click on the images to see them at full size and also to see all six.

Also in this issue and accessible online: interviews with Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Heinrich Böll. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

RIP Édouard Glissant

Édouard Glissant (1928-2011),
among the greatest intellectuals,
artists, critics, creators, thinkers
to emerge from the 20th century
Caribbean, passed away today
in Paris at age of 82.
A poet, fiction writer, essayiste,
philosopher, he brought these
different genres together
in conversation, around and to
a meal at which they spoke
at length and freely with each other.

When I was in graduate school I debated trying to finesse my schedule in order to take a class with him at the CUNY Graduate Center, but couldn't swing it. I nevertheless did hurry to any and all talks he gave, and was very glad to have seen him in the fall of 2009, when NYU's Institute of African American Affairs sponsored four conversations under the title One World In Relation, that explored aspects of Glissant's work. The four panels were "Opacity, Stupidity and the History of Unintelligibility: The Right to Opacity as a Prerequisite for Politics and Philosophy" (Oct. 27); Diversity in the Black Night: Chaos, Créolization and Metissage" (Nov. 4); "Roots and Imaginary Offshoots: Ecstatic Difference" (Nov. 18); and "De-capitalization and the Way of the World: Religion, Secularism and Multiplicity" (Nov. 30). 

I caught the third event, which featured François Noudelmann, Mary Ann Caws, Fred Moten (who brilliantly opened his presentation with a clip from John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," which opened a parallel vein of conversation, that rarely happens at such events), Manthia Diawara, Emily Apter, and Avital Ronell. The highlight of the evening, in addition to Moten's presentation, Diawara's film clip, and Glissant himself, was the tribute to him by poet Kofi Anyidoho, who entered the room and, breaking the usual hierarchical exchange that occurs between those on stage and the audience, strolled down the main aisle, singing and poetizing, gathering in his lyric embrace Kamau Brathwaite, another of the great figures of the 20th century Caribbean-African-Diasporic-America who was present; Diawara; and ultimately the entire audience. It appeared to shake some of the panelists up, but Glissant appeared delighted. He could see, I knew, in Anyidoho's performance some of his own theories being enacted, embodied, in play. I was glad I caught that event and sorry that I had to miss several others, including one at which the poet and translator extraordinaire Nathanaël, who beautifully translated Glissant's Poetic Intention (Nightbook Books, 2010), participated. At the bottom of this post are some photos of the event.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Happy Black History Month & Langston Hughes Day (Poems)

Today begins Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February in both the United States and Canada (in UK it occurs in October). It became an official US celebration in 1976, though its origins date back to scholar-activist Carter G. Woodson's establishment of Negro History Week in 1926. It is also, happily, Langston Hughes's birthday (1902-1967). I have posted more than a few Langston Hughes poems on this blog, and relish any opportunity to do so.

A draft of Hughes's "Old Walt"
Here are of two of his most famous poems, from Montage of a Dream Deferred (Henry Holt, 1951), both in direct conversation with each other. Note the light, jazzy, celebratory but ultimately critical tone of the first contrasting with the graver and more somber tone of the second, which I had to memorize and recite as a child (ah, the 1970s!). Both also might be read metonymically in relation to African America as it was in his day, and our own.


Good morning, daddy!
I was born here, he said.
watched Harlem grow
until colored folks spread
from river to river
across the middle of Manhattan
out of Penn Station
dark tenth of a nation,
planes from Puerto Rico,
and holds of boats, chico,
up from Cuba Haiti Jamaica,
in buses marked New York
from Georgia Florida Louisiana
to Harlem Brooklyn the Bronx
but most of all to Harlem
dusky sash acros Manhattan
I've seen them come dark
out of Penn Station--
but the trains are late.
The gates open--
Yet there're bars
at each gate.
What happens
to a dream deferred?
Daddy, ain't you heard?


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode? 

Both poems © Copyright, Estate of Langston Hughes, 1951, 2011. All rights reserved.