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by Carl Sandburg, 1916

I am the nigger.
 Singer of songs,
 Softer than fluff of cotton...
 Harder than dark earth
 Roads beaten in the sun
 By the bare feet of slaves...
 Foam of teeth... breaking crash of laughter...
 Red love of the blood of woman,
 White love of the tumbling pickaninnies...
 Lazy love of the banjo thrum...
 Sweated and driven for the harvest-wage,
 Loud laugher with hands like hams,
 Fists toughened on the handles,
 Smiling the slumber dreams of old jungles,
 Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life of the jungle,
 Brooding and muttering with memories of shackles:
             I am the nigger.
             Look at me.
             I am the nigger.

Published in Chicago Poems

Any corrections or public domain poems I should have here? Email me at poems (at) this domain.