You’ll Never Guess What This Young Woman Did For Money

Claude McKay

The Harlem Dancer

by Claude McKay, 1890-1948

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black, shiny curls
Profusely fell; and, tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her with their eager, passionate gaze;
But, looking at her falsely-smiling face
I knew her self was not in that strange place.

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One thought on “You’ll Never Guess What This Young Woman Did For Money

  1. karl carter says:

    In response to McKay’s poem I submit the following:

    Harlem- Madam to the cold night hawk
    Naked in the grass of concrete Manhattan
    Brown figures wrapped in a collage of colors
    Home to weary souls bound north on
    dead end freedom trains
    Sunday evening, Saturday night=s
    fried chicken, barbeque
    Policy parlors, cabarets, winos
    Junkies, pimps-
    A mosaic in Ebony, brown, and beige
    Sleeveless in the warm summer evenings
    Summers= ladies roam your heart
    ————Sportin= Daddy ————–
    Karl Carter

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