Maya Angelou2017-11-20T19:47:55-07:00

Maya Angelou

A Conceit

Give me your hand
Make room for me
to lead and follow you
beyond this rage of poetry.
Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.
For me
Give me your hand.
-A Conceit by Maya Angelou

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugercane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears.
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she has lain.

Ain’t That Bad?

Dancin’ the funky chicken
Eatin’ ribs and tips
Diggin’ all the latest sounds
And drinkin’ gin in sips.

Puttin’ down that do-rag
Tighten’ up my ‘fro
Wrappin’ up in Blackness
Don’t I shine and glow?

Hearin’ Stevie Wonder
Cookin’ beans and rice
Goin’ to the opera
Checkin’ out Leontyne Price.

Get down, Jesse Jackson
Dance on, Alvin Ailey
Talk, Miss Barbara Jordan
Groove, Miss Pearlie Bailey.

Now ain’t they bad?
An ain’t they Black?
An ain’t they Black?
An’ ain’t they Bad?
An ain’t they bad?
An’ ain’t they Black?
An’

Alone

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No,

Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls

Equality

You declare you see me dimly
through a glass which will not shine,
though I stand before you boldly,
trim in rank and making time.
You do own to hear me faintly
as a whisper out of range,
while my drums beat out the message
and the rhythms never change.
Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

You announce my ways are wanton,
that I fly from man to man,
but if I’m just a shadow

Glory Falls

Glory falls around us
as we sob
a dirge of
desolation on the Cross
and hatred is the ballast of
the rock
which his upon our necks
and underfoot.
We have woven
robes of silk
and clothed our nakedness
with tapestry.
From crawling on this
murky planet’s floor
we soar beyond the
birds and
through the clouds
and edge our waays from hate
and blind despair and
bring horror
to our brothers, and to our sisters cheer.
We grow despite the
horror that we feed
upon our own
tomorrow.
We grow.

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.
..
Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.
..
The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.
..
I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.
..
I know ten thousand

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant

In All Ways A Woman

In my young years I took pride in the fact that luck was called a lady. In
fact, there were so few public acknowledgments of the female presence that
I felt personally honored whenever nature and large ships were referred to
as feminine. But as I matured, I began to resent being considered a sister
to a changeling as fickle as luck, as aloof as an ocean, and as

Insomniac

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.
-Insomniac by Maya Angelou

Men

When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
Going somewhere.
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
Those behinds,
Men.

One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if

Million Man March Poem

The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.

Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach,
I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound,
You couldn’t even call out my name.
You were helpless and so was I,
But unfortunately throughout history
You’ve worn a badge of shame.

I say, the night has been long,
The wound

Momma Welfare Roll

Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback
And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation
Of crimes clichéd by
Repetition. Her children, strangers
To childhood’s toys, play
Best the games of darkened doorways,
Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
Other people’s property.

Too fat to whore,
Too mad to work,
Searches her dreams for the
Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
Into a den of bureaucrats for
Her portion.
“They don’t give me welfare.
I

Our Grandmothers

She lay, skin down in the moist dirt,
the canebrake rustling
with the whispers of leaves, and
loud longing of hounds and
the ransack of hunters crackling the near
branches.

She muttered, lifting her head a nod toward
freedom,
I shall not, I shall not be moved.

She gathered her babies,
their tears slick as oil on black faces,
their young eyes canvassing mornings of madness.
Momma, is Master going to sell you
from us tomorrow?

Yes.
Unless you keep walking more
and talking less.
Yes.
Unless

Paeans

The bells are a-clamord
chimes have been loosed
there is a banquet of Hosannas in the air.
……….
We have endured endless peaks of pain and valleys of loneliness;
We have lost beloved’s we could not live without; yet we have lived.
………
We have encountered unforgivable cruelty; yet we have forgiven yet we have
been forgiven.
……..
We have survived, flourished, and thrived with passion, compassion, humor
and style. We have been fortunate and worthy.
…….
Now we stand, heavy laden,

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then

Preacher, Don’t Send Me

Preacher, Don’t Send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky
where rats eat cats
of the leopard type
and Sunday brunch
is grits and tripe.

I’ve known those rats
I’ve seen them kill
and grits I’ve had
would make a hill,
or maybe a mountain,
so what I need
from you on Sunday
is a different creed.

Preacher, please don’t
promise me
streets of gold
and milk for free.
I stopped all milk
at four years old
and once I’m dead
I won’t need gold.

I’d call a place
pure

Prisoner

Even sunlight dares
and trembles through
my bars
to shimmer
dances on
the floor.
A clang og
lock and
keys and heels
and blood-dried
guns.
Even sunshine dares

It’s jail
and bail
then rails to run.

Guard grey men
serve plates of rattle
noise and concrete
death and beans.
Then pale sun stumbles
through the poles of
iron to warm the horror
of grey guard men.

It’s jail
and bail
then rails to run.

Black night. The me
myself of me sleeks
in the folds and history
of fear. To secret hold
me deep and close my
ears of lulls

Recovery

A Last love,
proper in conclusion,
should snip the wings
forbidding further flight.
But I, now,
reft of that confusion,
am lifted up
and speeding toward the light.
-Recovery by Maya Angelou

Refusal

Beloved,
In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Hands
Your Laughter brave
Irreverent.
Those sweet excesses that
I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again,
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body’s haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.
-Refusal by Maya Angelou

Remembrance

Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the
slope of my cheek. On the
occasion, you press
above me, glowing, spouting
readiness, mystery rapes
my reason
…..
When you have withdrawn
your self and the magic, when
only the smell of your
love lingers between
my breasts, then, only
then, can I greedily consume
your presence.
-Remembrance by Maya Angelou

Savior

Petulant priests, greedy
centurions, and one million
incensed gestures stand
between your love and me.

Your agape sacrifice
is reduced to colored glass,
vapid penance, and the
tedium of ritual.

Your footprints yet
mark the crest of
billowing seas but
your joy
fades upon the tablets
of ordained prophets.

Visit us again, Savior.
Your children, burdened with
disbelief, blinded by a patina
of wisdom,
carom down this vale of
fear. We cry for you
although we have lost
your name.