Friday Night Poetry Corner #97

Greetings everyone.  I am very sorry for this very late edition of the Friday Night Poetry Corner.  A great friend of mines got on my case today by such a postponement so I will showcase two poems tonight.

Yes I know it’s a Sunday like Miles Davis–“So What.”  lol.

The features poets for tonight in further honoring of Black History Month is Lucille Clifton and June Jordan.  The magnificent poets, their brilliance makes the pen to paper as greater as apple pie to ice cream.  Or donuts to coffee, whiskey to cigars—

Just great combos for ones’ pleasure in wants and mental needs..

Let me stop writing, enjoy and look up more of their works, you won’t be disappointed.  I promise that.




The great Lucille Clifton, photo by Gwen Phillips
The great Lucille Clifton, photo by Gwen Phillips


By Lucille Clifton

i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when a thumb of ice
stamped itself hard near my heart
you have your own story
you know about the fears the tears
the scar of disbelief
you know that the saddest lies
are the ones we tell ourselves
you know how dangerous it is
to be born with breasts
you know how dangerous it is
to wear dark skin
i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when i woke into the winter
of a cold and mortal body
thin icicles hanging off
the one mad nipple weeping
have we not been good children
did we not inherit the earth
but you must know all about this
from your own shivering life


Lucille Clifton, “1994” from the terrible stories. Copyright © 1996 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.


The brilliant June Jordan, photo by Gwen Phillips
The brilliant June Jordan, photo by Gwen Phillips


A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters

By June Jordan

A few years back and they told me Black
means a hole where other folks
got brain/it was like the cells in the heads
of Black children was out to every hour on the hour naps
Scientists called the phenomenon the Notorious
Jensen Lapse, remember?
Anyway I was thinking
about how to devise
a test for the wise
like a Stanford-Binet
for the C.I.A.
you know?
Take Einstein
being the most the unquestionable the outstanding
the maximal mind of the century
And I’m struggling against this lapse leftover
from my Black childhood to fathom why
anybody should say so:
E=mc squared?
I try that on this old lady live on my block:
She sweeping away Saturday night from the stoop
and mad as can be because some absolute
jackass have left a kingsize mattress where
she have to sweep around it stains and all she
don’t want to know nothing about in the first place
“Mrs. Johnson!” I say, leaning on the gate
between us: “What you think about somebody come up
with an E equals M C 2?
“How you doin,” she answer me, sideways, like she don’t
want to let on she know I ain’
combed my hair yet and here it is
Sunday morning but still I have the nerve
to be bothering serious work with these crazy
questions about
E equals what you say again, dear?”
Then I tell her, “Well
also this same guy? I think
he was undisputed Father of the Atom Bomb!”
“That right.” She mumbles or grumbles, not too politely
“And dint remember to wear socks when he put on
his shoes!” I add on (getting desperate)
at which point Mrs. Johnson take herself and her broom
a very big step down the stoop away from me
“And never did nothing for nobody in particular
lessen it was a committee
used to say, ‘What time is it?’
you’d say, ‘Six o’clock.’
he’d say, ‘Day or night?’
and he never made nobody a cup a tea
in his whole brilliant life!
[my voice rises slightly]
he dint never boogie neither: never!”
“Well,” say Mrs. Johnson, “Well, honey,
I do guess
that’s genius for you.”

June Jordan, “A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Used by permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust,

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