Two Poems/ Isaac Mason

 

 

Ralston Crawford Photographs the Negroes of Dryades St. c. 1950

 

What most interested him

was the play of light 

on their dark skin:

a shine or patina, 

a field upon the field.

 

At the Dew Drop Inn,

the San Jacinto Social Club,

the dancers and musicians,

posed engaging problems

of framing and composition.

 

In certain conditions of light,

they offered the camera

a richly textured sfumato.

 

All these years later 

we may be sure the camera

saw things the artist did not:

inwardness and woe, 

and in the eyes of some

of Crawford’s Negroes,

anger at being taken.

 

 

 

Jimi Hendrix in Vietnam

 

Every nigger up in this bitch got a story

about Jimi Hendrix in Vietnam.  

 

Nigger talking about Jimi Hendrix

and The One Hundred and First

Screaming Eagles Airborne Division.

 

Nigger talking about Jimi Hendrix saved our ass

when the gooks had us pinned down

outside Dak To, or Pleiku, or Kung Fu.

 

Nigger talking about Jimi in the Ia Drang Valley,

1965, where Westmoreland learned

what an NVA main-force battalion

could do when it came out in the open.

 

Nigger talking about Jimi Hendrix sole survivor

of the disaster at Lang Vei,

diversionary strike near the embattled

Marine base at Khe Sanh,

whose siege was itself a diversion

from what was coming

in the cities during Tet.

 

Nigger talking about Jimi Hendrix at Hamburger Hill,

Creighton Abrams’ big gamble,

where unacceptable losses

put political pressure on Nixon

to reinstate the civilian pacification

programs led, with a wavering heart,

by John Paul Vann.

 

Every nigger up in this bitch got a story

about Jimi Hendrix in Vietnam.

 

 

 

Header Image: Creative Commons, Public Domain.

 

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