Langston Hughes





Trumpet Player

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
Where the smoldering memory
Of slave ships
Blazed the crack of whips
About his thighs.

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has a head of vibrant hair
Tamed down.
Patent-leathered now
Until it gleams
Like jet - 
Were jet a crown.

The music
from the trumpet at his lips
Is honey
Mixed with liquid fire.
The rhythm 
From the trumpet at his lips
Is ecstasy
Distilled from old desire - 

Desire
That is longing for the moon
Where the moonlight’s but a spotlight
In his eyes,
Desire
That is longing for the sea
Where the sea’s a bar-glass
Sucker size.

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
Does not know
Upon what riff the music slips
Its hypodermic needle
To his soul -

But softly
As the tune comes from his throat
Trouble
Mellows to a golden note.


spoken = Rotimi Agbabiaka