Monday, February 10, 2020

Overheard at Table 4: Raymond Garfield Dandridge

James Moses says, "I think Raymond Garfield Dandridge is a great candidate for poets who don't get enough attention.  And not just for Black poets... but also for handicapped persons as well.... he had a stroke (or polio - stories differ), but regardless, he lost use of one whole side of his body and had to teach himself to write with the other hand.   Then he was able to work from home, by phone... so you could say that he was the first telecommuter!

"Here're two of my favorites of his:

Hahd Cidah

Wondah whut on earf tiz ails me,
Seems I see mo' outlan'ish t'ings,
Sech ez wagons pullin' hosses,
An' red mens, wid horns an' wings.
Mussy! how dese steps do tremble,
Dey's jes ez loose ez dey kin be,
An' dat do'-knob thinks it's clevah
Playin' 'hide an' seek' wid me.

Dar's a dashah in mah stumick,
Churnin', flip! flop! up an' down:
Mah po' achin' head am spinnin',
Whoop-pee-la-la! roun' an' roun'.
Tongue dun swole up thick ez two tongues:
Goo' Lawd! whut is I to do?
'Speck Ise got de eppazutic,
Or dat ah new fangled 'Flu.'

I is sartin tizent 'Goofoo,'
Caze I ain' ett no strangah's grub,
An' Ise bin nowhar, 'cept callin'
On mah hi brown Lady Lub.
We set coatin', me an' Idah,
'Near de arbah, in her yahd,
Holdin' han's an' sippin' cidah
Frum a brown jug, labeled 'Hahd.'

Time To Die

Black brother, think you life so sweet
That you would live at any price?
Does mere existence balance with
The weight of your great sacrifice?
Or can it be you fear the grave
Enough to live and die a slave?
O Brother! be it better said,
When you are gone and tears are shed,
That your death was the stepping stone
Your children's children cross'd upon.
Men have died that men might live:
Look every foeman in the eye!
If necessary, your life give
For something, ere in vain you die.

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