Betty Swain Wyeth

(Corpus Christi, Texas, USA)

Black Man Walking - Poem by Betty Swain Wyeth

I saw a Black Man walking
in Old Orleans,
In a day when it wasn't fashionable
to be black.
His body was twisted and bent out of shape,
And I noticed as he shuffled along,
that his feet didn't keep beat with the street.
When I stopped and asked him what he minded most,
(an arrogant assumnption that he minded both),
He stood as tall as his frame would allow...
"No Ma'am, I don't mind being a Black Man,
And I don't mind this old body being twisted,
And beat out of shape, but I sure hates livin' in a city
Where Jazz is the King, and my feet won't keep
the beat of the street.
Yes, I sure hates livin' in a city where Jazz is the King,
and my feet won't keep beat with the street."
Awed by his countenance,
I felt a deep loss.
For I of fair skin and freedom of movement,
Had Never..
No Never...
Felt the beat of the street.
I live in this city,
Where Jazz is the King,
And I never have felt
The beat of the street.
Oh, Life's never fair, as it deals out our fate-
But, are some refined and others defeated?
If the truth were knows, we're all
And, who can know the strength of the straw?
Oh, how did I find favor in the eyes of a God,
To meet the Black Mass of Bourbon Street
Who had conquered a complex of faces.
In the end...would his love of the Jazz defeat him?
I see him as then, as he ambled away-
Truth revealed, if only he knew it.
He was the King, not the Jazz, or the beat...
But, the Black Man of Bourbon Street.

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Read poems about / on: city, truth, loss, freedom, strength, fate, god, hate

Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 2, 2003

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