Burn Bridle Press – Bucks County History

Her Lips Are Copper Wire

with one comment

Jean Toomer

The other night I left work and found State Street abandoned and heavy with wet spring air. Rainwater dripped from the County Theater‘s neon marquee and fog dulled the orange glow of the street lamps. It reminded me of my favorite poem by former Doylestown resident Jean Toomer:

Her Lips Are Copper Wire

whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog

and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes

telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate

(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)

then with your tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent

An influential participant in the Harlem Renaissance, his most famous publication is the novel Cane, which compares the experiences of African Americans living in the North and South. He and his wife moved to Doylestown in 1940 and became Quakers. He withdrew from the public eye and remained in Doylestown for the rest of his life. Last Wednesday marked the 44th anniversary of his death in 1967.

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Written by Moses Doan

April 6, 2011 at 8:10 am

One Response

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  1. Hi Moses, My brother is and has been friends with Marjorie Content’s (wife of Jean Toomwer) grandson, and remembers seeing J.T. often dozing when they were playig on the property. Wasn’t till much later he learned about “Cane” and just who Mr. Toomer was.

    John U. Rees

    June 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm


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