The Black Hotel
Visiting the Okie poet's room
To smoke hashish & listen through the walls,
I heard each human sound heroically—
Comprehending the hallway messages:
Next door four fingers cantered like a horse,
A chair scraped out the pensioner's short cough,
& gentle wheezing was a distant broom…
Then I heard anger mounting the high stair
In stiff footfalls! I opened the door a crack
To see a deep-black negro stride the hall's
Length swiftly, pausing before a door
At key & lock. His step was urgent sound
Expressing low what you will understand
That I had overheard with walking ears!
He flicked his glance to me like grabbing flies,
& I saw tarter darken his eye-whites.
In my sensitive trance I heard his voice erupt
As the dull hall light, particle & wave,
Polished dark tortoise plates of his locked skull,
& poured like cocoa down his molten neck.
The sequence was the twinkling of an eye
Wherein the black man made his statement there,
Glancing, turning a knob, …& left the hall
Of fevered light on a conscious knowledge.
The tiny barnacles along his jaw!
His sound was wrathful thunder rising!
The words themselves broke from him utterly-
“Every Damned Dog Will Have His Day.”
Lower East Side
New York City