Hermits Rock

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a few poems from another era

The collection is 26 Ways of Looking at a Blackman and other poems from 1969

From Section I: The Negro Has a Bomb

A Song Waiting for Music
(to a strong hand-clapping, foot-stomping rhythm)

A river of tears is my story
A river of pain in this land
A river of angry fire
Will I burn and never tire
Until I am treated like a man
Until I am treated like a man.

A mountain of in justice is my story
A mountain of good men murdered in this land
But I’ll never be turned around
For I mean to be treated like a man
Yes, I mean to be treated like a man.

A valley of sorrow is my story
A valley of heartache in this land
Though this valley is dark right now
I’ll keep moving anyhow
Toward the day that I am treated like a man
Toward the day when I am treated like a man.

A plain of broken promise is my story
A plain of desolation in this land
Like a great plain blowing sand
I’ll be restless in this land
Until I am treated like a man
Until I am treated like a man.

In cities unfriendly is my story
And countries against me in this land
Though outlaw sheriffs treat me wrong
I’ll still march and sing my song
For I’m bound to be treated like a man
For I’m bound to be treated like a man.

Broad rivers bearing freedom is my story
Deep valleys green with faith in this land
Strong mountains high above
And the great plains rich with love
For the cities, for the countries of this land
Oh, the day that I’m treated like a man
Oh, the day that I’m treated like a man….

From Section 2: Love Leaves Its Mark

Journeying

All ways lead west, beyond the earth’s frontiers,
And tides race outwards-bound, beyond the sun,
To ride the shining coasts of distant spheres.
See where the cloud-caught airy currents run?

Oceans and islands call! Far and beyond
Extends the timeless challenge, star by star
Down paths of light, part guerdon and part bond,
To pull us … Read Morewestward, lifting sail and spar.

O pioneers, this earth, this island shore
Is but mid-passage in the enterprise—
One dream, one port where cockleshell and oar
Might know the deeps that border deeper skies,

To live our earth-bound infancy of eons to rehearse
The casting off—the voyage towards the universe.

From Section 3: 26 Ways of Looking at a Blackman

XI
The blackman dipped water
From the well.
And when the well dried,
He dipped cool blackness.

XII
We are told that the seeds
Of the rainbow are not unlike
A blackman’s tears.

XVII
If I could imagine the shaping of Fate,
I would think of blackmen
Handling the sun.

From Section 4: Riot Rhymes U.S.A (the last of the collection)

78
I just once want to feel
America is proud of me—black.
I just want America
To get off my back.

80
A black man
In an imperfect world
Lord, you can say that again!
A black man
In an imperfect world.

81
Must be some better way
To live today.
We’ve got to try, somehow
Right now
Before too many die.

85
If you want my views,
Well, I don’t think
The Negro thinks he can win.
But then again
I don’t think
The Negro thinks he can lose.