That Time I Met Langston Hughes

by Anthony R. Smith

 

On Lenox Avenue circa 1926. I look up to see Langston, weary
and blue, writing unsung words to an Ellington tune.
I begged “Mr. Hughes! Mr. Hughes! How do the blues end?”
He replied “They never truly do, my time-traveling friend!”
Returned to the present, to my records, my room.
Returned to my books and my glass, but no you.

Needle chasing hi-hat, an effort to escape.
The song progresses; I stay in place.
I scale and I scale to no resolution.
Can’t seem to find a key or solution.
I sustain until I run out of breath,
then proceed forth to drown in a fifth.

Bottle bottom finds me more focused than I’d like.
Maybe something darker, maybe I’ll kill the lights.
A toast to side two with newly filled glass,
“To all questions answered with liquor and brass!”
On the bookshelf: sweet Langston offering a verse-
perhaps some wisdom he forgot to disburse.

Between pages: an old picture used as a bookmark for years;
remembered clicking the shutter-a man with no fears.
Now I am naught but fear loathing and doubt.
I find myself shaking as the record runs out.
I reach out to your memory, but it’s far too late;
I’ll learn nothing more from this spinning plate.

 

Anthony R. Smith is a native of Hollywood, Florida, now living in the Orlando area. When not writing poetry or fronting his band (Hey, Angeline), he is a sound designer and actor by trade with a BA in Theatre from Florida State University; he remains active in the local theatre scene as well. Though his music is available on most digital platforms, this is the first of his poems to be published.