THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE
~Written by: Tupac Shakur
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
For Black Women Who Are Afraid
~By Toi Derricotte
A black woman comes up to me at break in the writing
workshop and reads me her poem, but she says she
can’t read it out loud because
there’s a woman in a car on her way
to work and her hair is blowing in the breeze
and, since her hair is blowing, the woman must be
white, and she shouldn’t write about a white woman
whose hair is blowing, because
maybe the black poets will think she wants to be
that woman and be mad at her and say she hates herself,
and maybe they won’t let her explain
that she grew up in a white neighborhood
and it’s not her fault, it’s just what she sees.
But she has to be so careful. I tell her to write
the poem about being afraid to write,
and we stand for a long time like that,
respecting each other’s silence.
IF YOU COME SOFTLY
~Written by Audre Lorde
If you come as softly
As the wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.
If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.
You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remeber death.
And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why now.
Or how, or what you do.
We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich between us
Shall drink our tears.
ON BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA
~Written by Phyllis Wheatley
“Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d and join th’angelic train.
~Written by Cornelius Eady
My family tells me this white gang I run with will
Grow up, and leave me behind. Our bones
Will change, and so will their affection. I will
Be a childlike man who lives in a shack. Just
Wait, they promise, my hair will become
Hoo-doo. The white girls will deny how we rassled,
What we saw. They laugh
Wait ’till you’re grown. And I hear this sad place
At the middle of that word where they live,
Where they wait for my skin to go sour.
AUNT JEMIMA’S DO-RAG
~Written by Cornelius Eady
I crown her secret, the hair
The world seems to dread.
At night, alone, after work has loosened
Its grip, and the muscles of her smile
Can relax, at the dresser, beside the
Washbasin, down comes the beauty
They try so hard to bind.
I hear there’s a man on the street,
Eyes dead as marbles, dodging
The law. They say his cap is made
Of wool. If he sleeps, I bet he dreams
Like we do, scalp uncoiled, nobody’s helper,
No one’s aunt.
A Poem for South African Women
Written by June Jordan
Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world
The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire
And the babies cease alarm as mothers
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open eye
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
even under the sea:
we are the ones we have been waiting for.