Poem Hunter
I Looked At A Man
CB (May 3,1962 / United States)

I Looked At A Man

I looked at a man
He was my father
Tall and wise and
His voice spoke doom
On us smaller folk
Who did not snap
And bow, and curtsey
When done.

He looked at me
Like with a lover’s
Heart, no, more like
A prostitute’s john...
Only with the term
Extended, and for his
Eyes only was his
Money spent.

I woke up with
His eyes on me
Not knowing what
Curve was offending
Or by what rights
I was giving by being
Born female in my father’s

So I obliterated curves
And prayed for the
Rain to fall.

It did not fall. The rain
Did not come except in
My tears hidden behind
Borrowed books, and
Tempered wine. I ran
From the sorrow and
Swallowed buried rocks
Like zeus and his new
Born children, but
Mine were never
Brought back up again.
Staying lumped up
In my belly, that didn’t
Belong to me. never did -
He claimed with his
Eyes on me. I saw a lust
For mine own blood on
His hand and on his head
And I ran, pretending
That a bee has stung
The bottom of my hand.

I look at a man
He is my father
I no longer claim him
He is mine no longer.

Emptiness is my father
The wideness of the sky.
The rush of the wind
Raking back my skirts
The autumn dew not
Dried from the grass
The ocean, rolling, and
Rolling, becomes my
Marriage bed.

I look at a man
He is not my father
He is nothing important
Nothing to be had.
I turn my face from
Him to look back to
My beloved, and my

Now I hear
Faint echoes
Of the fire and the
Brand. Echoes
Fade away, and
Leave nothing behind.
Just like his hand.
Just like his clan.

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Langston Hughes


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