Poems for National Black Poetry Day

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cutting greens

by Lucille Clifton

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and i taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

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 – from Freedom’s Plow

by Langston Hughes

When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

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The Old Men Used to Sing

by Alice Walker

The old men used to sing
And lifted a brother
Carefully
Out the door
I used to think they
Were born
Knowing how to
Gently swing
A casket
They shuffled softly
Eyes dry
More awkward
With the flowers
Than with the widow
After they’d put the
Body in
And stood around waiting
In their
Brown suits.

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Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

American author, poet and educator, Poet Laureate of Maryland (1979-1985); her work celebrates her African-American heritage and experience as a woman

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Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

American poet-author-playwright,
social activist, novelist, and columnist;
major figure in NY’s Harlem Renaissance

 

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Alice Walker (1944 – )

American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist;
author of The Color Purple, which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

 

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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