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.

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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.

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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. 

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BUCKWHEAT’S LAMENT

             ~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.

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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.

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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

fertile

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

raising arms

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

if necessary

even under the sea:

we are the ones we have been waiting for.

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