African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Atlantic City Waiter by Countee Cullen

With subtle poise he grips his tray
   Of delicate things to eat;
Choice viands to their mouths half way,
   The ladies watch his feet

Go carving dexterous avenues
   Through sly intricacies;
Ten thousand years on jungle clues
   Alone shaped feet like these.

For him to be humble who is proud
   Needs colder artifice;
Though half his pride is disavowed,
   In vain the sacrifice.

Sheer through his acquiescent mask
   Of bland gentility,
The jungle flames like a copper cask
   Set where the sun strikes free.

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