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Introduction to Americana
Poems can be reflective or reactionary. In a reflective mood, the poet comments on past events. His or her voice may be calm, wistful, and longing. They are preservers of the moment. When poets put on their reactionary mantle, they are more vocal and want to move themselves and others to action In this small collection, Harvey has both the reflective voice and the force of the reactionary.
Viewing the Vietnam War, race relations, and the cultural renaissance of the 1960's and 1970's through the prism of a child's eye shaped Harvey's views and points of view. The poets Allen Ginsburg, Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, and Ai shaped his voice.
Herds of humanity
Graze on street corner slop and ride in the bellies
Of silver worms beneath city gutters
Street people are ragged and unfashionably stinky.
Everyone else is fashionably ragged.
"Andy" sells me a beaded sweater
off an old lady's dead shoulders.
A roguish Puerto Rican painter copies
A Robert Colescott painting as his own black creation.
Got all dressed up to go to the theatre in Harlem.
Got there stinky and hot--Harlem,
Who bombed it?
Noise all night long in Brooklyn.
No ugly people live in New York
Everyone is Cafe' au lait. Tall boy with five-inch hair
Sits wide-legged on the sub in baggy trousers.
His throat is stiff with defiance, But his dark
Eyes linger in mine for a moment.
Everything is for sale in New York
Even a hug from daddy long legs.
Other Notable poetry volumes by the author:
The Last Supper
3AM: Poems and Stories From the Other Mind