Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Restaurant Man views The Colored Man...

in 1952.

The poem "The Colored Man" was included in a collection of poems published in 1952, by my great, great, great uncle W.E. Dad Benton. I never met him, in fact just found out about him in the last few years. I met him through my cousins the Crooks. Their mother Sarah was the sister of my grandfather Stephen. W.E. was Stephen and Sarah's uncle. I don't know much about him, but I do know that he left Kansas and made his way to California, settled there, opened a cafe, observed life and wrote about it in his poems.

The Colored Man
W.E. Dad Benton

I am not wishing to open a row,
  I just can't figure it out somehow.
A colored man comes in my place to eat,
Behaves like a man and is cleanly and neat.

But I shouldn't seat him along with the rest.
He should have "left-overs"--never the best.
He pays for his breakfast, without a word,
Nor seems to resent the remarks that he heard.

He quietly leaves as he quietly came
And no one but me seems to feel any shame.
But me--I'm inside that man as he leaves--
And something within me suffers and grieves.

Why should this stigma of color remain?
Why do we relish another man's pain?
What can he do to atone for his sin
That we were born white--and the black was for him?

It worries me--baffles me--maybe I'm crude,
Maybe I'm soft when I ought to be rude,
But sometimes I wonder how we would feel
With US on the dark colored end of the deal.

I want to know more about this man. This long ago uncle of mine. He lived with food and words, combined them, blended them and made a life. I want to know how he did that, I want to learn.

Quote of the Day: For life to me, without its fun, Is like the sky without a Sun---A rainbow with no pot of gold, No candlelight, when I am old. W.E. Dad Benton from his poem "Just a Restaurant Man"

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