You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.
I cannot wait for fall parties. The invitations have begun to roll in. I used to think I loved summer parties until they got this year so sweaty and sad, the whole world away at the shore, sunk in sweet and salt. Goodbye, summer: you were supposed to save us from spring but everyone just slumped into you, sad sacks pulling the shade down on an afternoon of a few too many rounds. Well, I won’t have another. I’ll have fall. The fall of parties for no reason, of shivering rooftops, scuffed boots, scarves with cigarette holes. I’ll warm your house. I’ll snort your mulling spices. I’ll stay too late, I’ll go on a beer run, I’ll do anything to stay in your dimly lit rooms scrubbed clean of all their pity.
My mother wouldn’t stand up
to wave. My father made certain
the door locked behind me.
But when I went for your door
you came too. Your mouth
made a flute of my arm,
its music a glass on the past.
My love, my love, went its song.
Now there is no need to leave.
Copyright © 2016 by Susan Wheeler. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.