I would be
A painter with words
Creating sharp portraits
On the wide canvas of your mind
Images of those things
Shaped through my eyes
That interest me;
But being a Tenth American
In this democracy
I sometimes sketch a miniature
Though I contract for a mural.
You understand this democracy;
One man as good as another,
From log cabin to White House,
Poor boy to corporation president,
Hoover and Browder with one vote each,
A free country,
And the rich get tax refunds,
The poor get relief checks.
As for myself
I pay five cents for a daily synopsis of current history,
Two bits and the late lowdown on Hollywood,
Twist a dial for Stardust or Shostakovich,
And with each bleacher stub I reserve the right to shout “kill the bum” at the umpire—
Wherefore am I different
From nine other Americans?
But listen, you
Don’t worry about me
I’m Convert 4711 at Beulah Baptist Church,
I’m Social Security No. 337-16-3458 in Washington,
Thank you Mister God and Mister Roosevelt!
And another thing:—
No matter what happens
I too can always call in a policeman!
Frank Marshall Davis, “Self Portrait” from Black Moods: Collected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by the Trustees of the University of Illinois. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Illinois Press.
Source: Black Moods
(University of Illinois Press, 1948)
Poems by Frank Marshall Davis