Women of the Harlem Renaissance – 2
Riverwalk Jazz Web Exclusive

Helene Johnson. Courtesy VG: Voices from the Gaps, Women Artists and Writers of Color, Univ of Minnesota.

Poem by Helene Johnson
Little brown boy,
Slim, dark, big-eyed,
Crooning love songs to your banjo
Down at the Lafayette--
Gee, boy, I love the way you hold your head,
High sort of and a bit to one side,
Like a prince, a jazz prince. And I love
Your eyes flashing, and your hands,
And your patent-leathered feet,
And your shoulders jerking the jig-wa.
And I love your teeth flashing,
And the way your hair shines in the spotlight
Like it was the real stuff.
Gee, brown boy, I loves you all over.
I'm glad I'm black. I'm glad I can
Understand your dancin' and your
Singin', and feel all the happiness
And joy and don't care in you.
Gee, boy, when you sing, I can close my ears
And hear tom-toms just as plain.
Listen to me, will you, what do I know
About tom-toms? But I like the word, sort of,
Don't you? It belongs to us.
Gee, boy, I love the way you hold your head,
And the way you sing, and dance,
And everything.
Say, I think you're wonderful. You're
All right with me,
You are.

 

A night on the town. Photo courtesy The James Van Der Zee series Harlem World.

lafayette

Lafayette Theatre. Courtesy Schomberg Center, NY Public Library.

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