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

Roscoe Wright, "When a Jazz Band Plays" (1928)

I see shining black hair smoothed back
on round dark foreheads.

And agile bodies sway, from side to side,
like trees cradled by a rhythmic wind.

Tom-toms thud ... thud ... thud.

I hear the soft gurgle of rippling waters;
the jubilation of the jungle moon, laughing
with the stars; and the howl of the jackal
in the tangled bush.

I hear the soft, pure music of angels,
and the loud quick cacophony of demons,
blended in concert all together.

Published in Saturday Evening Quill, June 1928

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