Poetry Friday is hosted by Madigan at http://www.madiganreads.com/2011/04/poetrees-review.html
I found this anthology buried deep in the stacks of my favorite book place - "The Bookmill", in Montague, Massachusetts (the place for "books you don't need in a place you can't find" as their motto - also a bumper sticker on my car- goes). Each poem is introduced by its "chooser's" reasons for selection - the connection, the lines loved, and so on - and the poems themselves are arranged thematically, which sets a certain mood and sense of expectation for the poems that follow. Since we are deep in the study of slavery in my classes at the moment, these two poems, Countee Cullen's followed by Emily Dickinson's, had a particular resonance. Especially, I think, in the order they flow from one to the other.
(For Eric Walrond)
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”
I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –