Melvin Beaunorus Tolson Poems

Hit Title Date Added
The Birth of John Henry

The night John Henry is born an ax
of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth,
and the eagles and panthers cry!

A Song for Myself

Abraham Lincoln of Rock Spring Farm


Along the Wilderness Road, through Cumberland Gap,
The black ox hours limped toward Sunday's sun,
Across a buff clay belt with scrawls of stone,

An Ex-Judge at the Bar

Bartender, make it straight and make it two—
One for the you in me and the me in you.
Now let us put our heads together: one
Is half enough for malice, sense, or fun.


Doubt not
the artist and his age
(though bald as the pilled head of garlic),
married or divorced

The Dictionary of the Wolf

"We all declare for liberty," Lincoln said.
"We use the word and mean all sorts of things:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.
Rifle the basket that thy neighbor brings."

Old Houses

Aunt Martha bustles
From room to room
Between attic and basement,
With duster and broom.


King Oliver of New Orleans
has kicked the bucket, but he left behind
old Satchmo with his red-hot horn
to syncopate the heart and mind.

The Shipwright

Down in the shipyard, day and night,
The Galahads of the dock,
Hard as the sinews of basin rock,
Build an ocean cosmopolite.

The Town Fathers

At the Courthouse Square
On the Fourth of July,
Beneath Old Glory's
Pyrotechnic sky,