This poem by Nikky Finney is displayed in The Lyric's lobby and pays tribute to the historic theatre's past, present and future.
On the East End, we shine our
own shoes, dress our own legs,
smooth down willful hair, let all
new trouble float. Done-up.
We promenade and pass,
Do As You Please & 3rd, where
Winkfield & Murphy once flew.
Under the blazing marquee
we hand our shiny quarter over,
glide toward, then across,
our eight-point star, rose-tile
light of regeneration.
In the dark theater, the salt-cold
sweat of work is left behind, now,
names hurled our way set aside,
now paychecks that never match
our labor folded away now.
House lights dim:
Paul Robeson is Othello.
Miss Ella strikes & swings.
The Duke & Count jazz-juice
the night, royalty speaks to royalty.
The Ink Spots, Sarah Vaughan,
Miss Mahalia orchestrates moans
& moonbeams, Candy Johnson
& his Peppermint Sticks fill every
inch of stage. Marian Anderson
holds her hands quiet, in position.
Woody Strode, our Black cowboy,
wild-rides the open oat fields & range.
Our dusty eyes drink in Beah Richards,
Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne.
We come to the Lyric to see our many
selves lifted up to light, fastened to the
edge of the wind, center-stage.
Intermission at the Lyric:
Freda Jones tries on a new hat,
no one is arrested. Bernard Lewis
licks his ice cream cone on every
melting side, no one is booked for
loitering. The picture-taking man
takes our picture too. At the Lyric,
we pose, bright futures we portray.
At the Lyric we fall in love with our
lips. In row 17: Lucinda kisses Big
Tank clear through the opening act.
We cry at the Lyric, laugh out loud
at the Lyric. Whisper! Quiet!
Here comes the principal cast! Miss Lucy
Harth Smith primly takes her seat.
At the Lyric, William Wells Brown
pulls out his indelible pen and writes
us down, Isaac Scott Hathaway shapes
our regal faces in his amber clay.
We come to the Lyric to rise,
rejuvenate, see ourselves win,
watch ourselves hit the home run,
be champion of the world!