Monday, February 3, 2014

Langston Hughes poem "I Still See the Ghost of Langston Hughes" by Denise Low

I Still See the Ghost of Langston Hughes

On the steps of his grandmother’s house
when I drive down Alabama Street.
This is his heaven—he can travel at will
to Cuba, Harlem and all his hometowns.
He visits his brother’s grave in Joplin.

In Lawrence he whispers to every writer
to make music for everyday people.
Sometimes he takes the pen from my hand
and writes a line,  then changes into a boy
vamping vaudeville walks on railroad ties.

Some nights I hear blues singers
like Lee McBee shout country sorrows
and relive Jimmy Reed tunes on electric guitar
or hear the Bopaphonics resort his lines
into hip-hop rounds of words without pause.

Or I sit on the library steps where he walked
holding his mother’s hand. I read books
with dog-eared pages and the touch
of other borrowers left in plies of the paper.
Sometimes I feel his boy’s rapt breath.

I go to movies in the same opera house
where he saw silent films and traveling shows.
In autumn I hear football fans roar near his house
and feel the chill that penetrates every coat.
In summer the wind rises, awakens oak leaves,
and I hear his restless, restless feet—always ready to go.

from Ghost Stories of the New West (Topeka: Woodley, 2010)