Friday Poem

Bessie Smith

Homage to the Empress of the Blues

Because there was a man somewhere in a candystripe silk shirt,
gracile and dangerous as a jaguar and because a woman moaned for him
in sixty-watt gloom and mourned him Faithless Love
Twotiming Love Oh Love Oh Careless Aggravating Love,

….. She came out on the stage in yards of pearls, emerging like
….. a favorite scenic view, flashed her golden smile and sang.

Because grey laths began somewhere to show from underneath
torn hurdygurdy lithographs of dollfaced in heaven;
and because there were those who feared alarming fists of snow
on the door and those who feared the riot-squad of statistics,

….. She came out on the stage in ostrich feathers, beaded satin,
….. and shone that smile on us and sang.

by Robert Hayden
The Norton Anthology
Norton & Company, 2003