Lewis Grandison Alexander

Seven Poems

The Resurrection Issue
Volume 14:3, Summer 2013



My soul like a tree
Sways above dry-leaf Autumn:
Be kind, oh wind-god.


Like cherry blossoms
Dancing with the passing wind—
My shattered hopes.


Last night I saw you
A dream rose, and I your stem
Showing you the sun.


O apple blossoms
Give me your words of silence!
Yes, your charming speech.


My soul is the wind
Dashing down fields of Autumn:
O, too swift to sing.


The wind is a comb
Fixing clouds about the moon
In a strange coiffure.


My ears burn for speech
And you lie cold and silent.
Supinely cruel:

Look at the white moon
The sphinx does not question more.
Turn away your eyes.



I came as a shadow,
I stand now a light;
The depth of my darkness
Transfigures your night.

My soul is a nocturne
Each note is a star;
The light will not blind you
So look where you are.

The radiance is soothing.
There’s warmth in the light.
I came as a shadow,
To dazzle your night!



Avenue of dreams
Boulevards of pain
Moving black streams
Shimmering like rain.



Look me over, kid!
I know I’m neat,—
Little Cinderella from head to feet.
Drinks all night at Club Alabam,—
What comes next I don’t give a damn!

Daddy, daddy,
You sho looks keen!
I likes men that are long and lean.
Broad Street ain’t got no brighter lights
Than your eyes at pitch midnight.



I return the bitterness,
Which you gave to me;
When I wanted loveliness
Tantalant and free.

I return the bitterness
It is washed by tears;
Now it is a loveliness
Garnished through the years.

I return the loveliness,
Having made it so;
For I wore the bitterness
From it long ago.



The day is a Negro
Yelling out of breath.
The night is a Negro
Laughing up to death.

The day is a jazz band
Blasting loud and wild.
The night is a jazz band
Moaning blues songs, child.

The day is the sunshine
Undressed in the street.
The night is the sunshine
Dressed from head to feet.

I am a rainbow
Arched across the way.
Yes, I am a rainbow
Being neither night nor day.



1. Form

You stood in the yard
Like a lilac bush
With your head tossed high
As if to push
Your hair in a blossom
About your head
You wore the grace
Of a fragile reed.

2. Fashion

Your gown crackled loud
Like a swish of leaves
Being flitted about
By a lyric breeze
Your step was like a dainty fawn
Breathing the nectared air at dawn,
Oft have I seen the rose in you
But it never bloomed such a brilliant hue.



Lewis Grandison Alexander (July 4, 1900 — 1945) was born in Washington, DC, and educated in DC Public Schools and at Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania. He began writing poetry at age 17, and had a particular affinity for Japanese traditional verse forms such as haiku (sometimes called hokku) and tanka. As he wrote in an essay in the December 1923 issue of The Crisis, "Japanese Hokkus": "Its real value is not in its physical directness but in its psychological indirectness—not in what is said but what is suggested—written in the spaces between the lines." Alexander was a member of the Playwriters Circle, the Randall Community Center Players and the Ira Aldridge Players, all based in DC, where he wrote plays, acted, and designed costumes. Alexander also starred in the original Broadway production of Salome in 1923. His poems were published in a number of journals, including The Crisis, The Messenger, Opportunity, Palms, Black Opals, and Saturday Evening Quill, as well as the only issue of Fire!!. He guest edited a special "Negro Number" of the journal Carolina Magazine at the University of North Carolina in 1927. His work was included in the anthologies The New Negro, edited by Alain Locke, Ebony and Topaz, edited by Charles S. Johnson, and Caroling Dusk, edited by Countee Cullen.