She is one of my all time favorite poets.
I hope you don't mind, but I had a really hard time choosing which poems to post. I love them all.
poem in praise of menstruation
if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if
there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta if there
is a river
braver than this
coming and coming in a surge
of passion, of pain if there is
more ancient than this
daughter of eve
mother of cain and of abel if there is in
the universe such a river if
there is some where water
more powerful than this wild
pray that it flows also
beautiful and faithful and ancient
and female and brave
poem to my uterus
you have been patient
as a sock
while i have slippered into you
my dead and living children
they want to cut you out
stocking i will not need
where i am going
where am i going
my bloody print
my estrogen kitchen
my black bag of desire
where can i go
where can you go
wishes for sons
i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.
i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.
later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.
let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.
the lost baby poem
the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned
you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car we would have made the thin
walk over genesee hill into the canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things
if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller
of seas let black men call me stranger
always for your never named sake
it was a dream
in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This. This. This.
loaded like spoons
into the belly of Jesuswhere we lay for weeks for monthsin the sweat and stinkof our own breathingJesuswhy do you not protect uschained to the heart of the Angelwhere the prayers we never telland hot and redas our bloody anklesJesusAngelcan these be menwho vomit us out from shipscalled Jesus Angel Grace of Godonto a heathen countryJesusAngelever againcan this tongue speakcan these bones walkGrace Of Godcan this sin live
jasper texas 1998
for j. byrd
i am a man's head hunched in the road.
i was chosen to speak by the members
of my body. the arm as it pulled away
pointed toward me, the hand opened once
and was gone.
why and why and why
should i call a white man brother?
who is the human in this place,
the thing that is dragged or the dragger?
what does my daughter say?
the sun is a blister overhead.
if i were alive i could not bear it.
the townsfolk sing we shall overcome
while hope bleeds slowly from my mouth
into the dirt that covers us all.
i am done with this dust. i am done.
born july in '29and dead these 15 yearswho carried a bookon every stroll.
when daddy was dyingshe left the streetsand moved back hometo tend him.
her pimp came tooher Diamond Dickand they would take turnsreading
a bible aloud through the house.when you poem thisand you will she would sayremember the Book of Job.
happy birthday and hopeto you Josephineone of the eastsmost wanted.
may heaven be filledwith literate menmay they bed youwith respect.
Selections from: Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 with. Copyright 1991.
Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright 1991.
The Book of Light. Copyright 1992.
The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright 1996.
Mercy. Copyright 2004.