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    "I Don’t Feel Death Coming / I Feel Death Going": 3 Poems By James Baldwin

    Here are three poems excerpted from Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems, out today from Beacon Press.


    No, I don't feel death coming.

    I feel death going:

    having thrown up his hands,

    for the moment.

    I feel like I know him

    better than I did.

    Those arms held me,

    for a while,

    and, when we meet again,

    there will be that secret knowledge

    between us.

    "Le sporting-club de Monte Carlo (for Lena Horne)"

    The lady is a tramp

    a camp

    a lamp

    The lady is a sight

    a might

    a light

    the lady devastated

    an alley or two

    reverberated through the valley

    which leads to me, and you

    the lady is the apple

    of God's eye:

    He's cool enough about it

    but He tends to strut a little

    when she passes by

    the lady is a wonder

    daughter of the thunder

    smashing cages

    legislating rages

    with the voice of ages

    singing us through.

    "Munich, Winter 1973 (for Y.S.)"

    In a strange house,

    a strange bed

    in a strange town,

    a very strange me

    is waiting for you.


    it is very early in the morning.

    The silence is loud.

    The baby is walking about

    with his foaming bottle,

    making strange sounds

    and deciding, after all,

    to be my friend.


    arrive tonight.

    How dull time is!

    How empty—and yet,

    since I am sitting here,

    lying here,

    walking up and down here,


    I see

    that time's cruel ability

    to make one wait

    is time's reality.

    I see your hair

    which I call red.

    I lie here in this bed.

    Someone teased me once,

    a friend of ours—

    saying that I saw your hair red

    because I was not thinking

    of the hair on your head.

    Someone also told me,

    a long time ago:

    my father said to me,

    It is a terrible thing,
    to fall into the hands of the living God.


    I know what he was saying.

    I could not have seen red

    before finding myself

    in this strange, this waiting bed.

    Nor had my naked eye suggested

    Excerpted from Jimmy's Blues & Other Poems by James Baldwin. Copyright 2014. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press.