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Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed at home.
Sadie scrapped for life
With a fine tooth comb.
She didn’t leave a tangle in.
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits
In all the land.
Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.
Every one but Sadie
Nearly died of shame.
When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine tooth comb.)
Maud, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house….
From Blacks by Gwendollearn more
What shall I give my children? who are poor,
Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land,
Who are my sweetest lepers, who demand
No velvet and no velvety velour;
But who have begged me for a brisk contour,
Crying that they are quasi, contraband
Because unfinished, graven by a hand
Less than angelic, admirable or sure.
My hand is stuffed with mode, design, device.
But I lack access to my proper stone
And plenitude of plan shall not suffice
Nor grief nor love shall be enough alone
To ratify my little halves who bear
Across an autumn freezing everywhere . .
At home we pray every morning, we
get down on our knees in a circle,
holding hands, holding Love,
and we sing hallelujah.
Then we go into the world.
Daddy speeds, to break bread with his Girl Friend.
Mommy’s a Boss. And a lesbian.
(She too has a nice Girl Friend.)
my brothers and sisters and I come to school.
We bring knives pistols bottles, little boxes, and cans.
We talk to the man who’s cool at the playground gate.
Nobody Sees us, nobody stops our sin.
Our teachers feed us geography.
We spit it out in a hurry.
My way is from woe to wonder.
A Black boy near Johannesburg, hot in the Hot Time.
Those people do not like Black among the colors.
They do not like our calling our country ours.
They say our country is not ours.
Those people. Visiting the world as I visit the world.
Those people. Their bleach is puckered and cruel.
It is work to speak of my Father.
My Father. His body whole till they stopped it.
Suddenly. With a short shot.
Before, before that , physically tall among us, he died every day.
Every moment. Mt Father…