#BlackHistoryMonth Old Black Ladies Standing on Bus Stop Corners #poem

7db2148cc553f6b4793de5f6fc583e7cLadies On The Town, Bus Stop In Chinatown, Washington, DC
Photo by Gerald L. Campbell

Old Black Ladies Standing on Bus Stop Corners #2

for my grandmother, Leona Smith

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

& it never did matter
whether the weather
was flame-tongue-licked
or as cold as a welldigger’s asshole
in late december when santa claus
was working his cold money bullshit
that made financiers grin ear to ear
all the way to secret bank vaults
overflowing with marble eyes
of dirt-poor children

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

never did matter
whether the days were storm raked
unzipped by lightning streaking clouds
dropping tornadoes that skipped crazy
to their own exploding beat
shooting hailstone death–
that popped like old bones–
crashing into the skulled
sunken eyes of tired old ladies
tired old black ladies
standing on bus stop corners
pain wrapped as shawls around their necks

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

& “mama” it didn’t matter
that your pained scarred feet overworked
numb legs grew down out of old worn dresses
seemingly fragile, gaunt & skeletal frail
as two old mop sticks–scarecrow legs–
and didn’t matter because you stood there anyway
defying nature’s chameleon weather–
cold as a welldigger’s asshole, then oven-hot–
defying all reason, you stood
there, testifying over 300 years
stretching back, of madness & treason

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

no, it didn’t matter
because the beauty of your heroic life
grown lovely in twisted swamps
grown lovely in a loveless land
grown pure & full from wombs
of concrete blood & bones
of concrete blood & bones & death
of death & sweat chained to breath
didn’t matter dark proud flower
who stood tall scrubbed by cold
& rain & heat & age carrying
the foreign name given your grandfather–
who swayed body high
twisting & turning in the breeze
like billie’s “strange fruit”–

because you stood there anyway
unforgettably silent in your standing
beautiful work-scarred black lady
numb legs & bow bent under beautiful
stood there on pain-scarred feet overworked
numb legs
& bow bent under beautiful
under the memory of your grandfather swaying high
up there in a burning southern breeze
now sweet music love sings soft tender beauty
deep in your washed aging windows–
& you give me strength
during the mad, bizarre days–

& we have learned to love your life
& will vindicate the pain & silence of your life
the memory of your grandfather with the foreign name
& who sways high up there in history over your legs
blue black & bow bent under beautiful
the weight of over 300 years carried
of blood & bones & death in mud
of breath & sweat chained to death
numb legs & bow bent under beautiful
under the memory of your grandfather
swaying high up there in the burning breeze

didn’t matter whether the weather was flame-tongue-licked
or cold as a welldigger’s asshole in late december
because you stood there anyway
in full bloom of your strength & rare beauty
& made us strong

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

Quincy Troupe, in The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, ed. Arnold Rampersad (Oxford 2006)

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From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

Oh, Lucille Clifton… “Listen Children/we have always loved each other” #BlackLivesMatter #ValentinesDay

One of the most beautiful love poems for black children. So much love she has, and so careful to talk simply and direct. No big words, no flowers, chocolate or stars. Lucille Clifton passed away 5 years ago after many years of fighting cancer.

Listen Children

listen children
keep this in the place
you have for keeping
always
keep it all ways

we have never hated black

listen
we have been ashamed
hopeless tired mad
but always
all ways
we loved us

we have always loved each other
children all ways

pass it on

…………………………………………………

good times

my daddy has paid the rent
and the insurance man is gone
and the lights is back on
and my uncle brud has hit
for one dollar straight
and they is good times
good times
good times

my mama has made bread
and grampaw has come
and everybody is drunk
and dancing in the kitchen
and singing in the kitchen
of these is good times
good times
good times

oh children think about the
good times

………………………………………………….

Poem in praise of menstruation

if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if
there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta if there

is a river
braver than this
coming and coming in a surge
of passion, of pain if there is

a river
more ancient than this
daughter of eve
mother of cain and of abel if there is in

the universe such a river if
there is some where water
more powerful than this wild
water

pray that it flows also
through animals
beautiful and faithful and ancient
and female and brave

………………………………………………….

The New Yorker remembers one of the great poets, Lucille Clifton!!

A longer, very satisfying, piece that has long lists of what to read for various age groups is at the poetry foundation.

BUY: My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry (A Puffin Poetry Book)
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry 
NEW at independent bookstores NEAR you: My Black Me.

Little Girl Talk by Delores S. Williams.

Little Girl Talk

my grampaw was a smooth black, way back then
before black discovered beautiful he was pretty.
he had pearlywhite teeth and a big moustache.
he useta skinny-out to the edge with a black-wax stick. on Sunday
he would pindown in his darkblue suit, wideblue tie.
white-stiff shirt, and hip-on down to the presbyterian church where he argued
over how to spend white folk’s mission money.

on weekdays: overalls. he worked in a factory.
until some white boss talked down to him. then he’d quit.
to another factory. talk union talk to negroes. get
laid off. on the way home buy me a big box of oran
kause i kalled iron ‘i-roan’.

my grampaw was all the kings i wanted to know. when
i was six. my grampaw was smart. didn’t
go to college. said white folks wouldn’t let’im.
but he worked algebra and trig and read gladstone’s law.
and science books. he used to tell us kids
there wasn’t no heaven.

my grampaw said i was the sugar in his coffee. yes indeed.
i remember my grampaw,

the day the siren screamed into our street ballgame
and stopped at our house, we kids, eight of us, scattered
into an uneven line across the street. we watched two
big, redneck, white men in white uniforms stuff my
pretty grampaw into something called a straitjacket,
crowd him into the back of their looney wagon, jump
into the front themselves and shriek-off into the distance.
my grammaw stood perfectly still. her proud eyes
looked deep and sore and hollow. my mother, unmoving, cried softly.
i, girl-boy-tom-tree-climber of 10, tried
not to feel anything. the tears that didn’t come swelled
to a tight fist in my chest

big, brave, girlboy me
shove the weight of my ten years
onto two flat feet,
strolled to the middle of the street
and yelled as loud as i could,
“throw the ball, shity!”
.          The game was on.

 

Delores S. Williams

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From The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634