John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Poet's Corner: Incident

I didn't have anything in mind to post today, and since it's Saturday, I thought I might post a poem, since that's something I used to do every Saturday for quite a few years. I poked around a bit looking for poems that had to do with Holy Saturday — that's what some people called the Saturday that falls between Good Friday and Easter Sunday — but didn't really find anything, so I hied myself to Wikipedia, to see if any poets had been born or died on March 30. A bunch had done one or the other, but the one that caught my eye was Countee Cullen, mostly because I tend to like the Harlem Renaissance poets but a little because the name reminded me of Adam Countee, who used to write for Community.

So I went looking for a poem by him, and found this one, which I'd read before and, in fact, was convinced I'd already posted. But a search of my archives said otherwise, so I copied it and formatted it just so, and then pulled up Countee Cullen's Wikipedia page to get his dates, whereupon I saw that his article said he'd been born on May 30, not March 30. Say what? There's a lot of confusion about Cullen's early life; no one's quite sure when he was born, nor even where, for that matter. Part of me wonders if may once I'd considered posting the poem, then decided not to when I couldn't confirm the date. Kind of sounds like something I'd do, but the last time March 30 fell on a Saturday was 2002, and I wasn't posting poetry on Saturdays then. Nor much of anything, for that matter; I'd only created my LiveJournal account four days earlier.

It's also possible that I decided not to use it because it contains an ugly racial slur. If so, I'm not letting that stop me this time, but I will hide the whole thing behind a cut so anyone who would rather avoid seeing that word — you probably know the one I mean — can avoid doing so.


     (For Eric Walrond)

Once riding in old Baltimore,
   Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
   Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
   And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
   His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

I saw the whole of Baltimore
   From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
   That’s all that I remember.

     Countee Cullen (1903-1946)

Tags: poet's corner, this day in history, tv: community

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.