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Joy and Hope and All That: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton

As I Listened

in response to lucille clifton


As i listened.
As i felt her words..
As they shifted through me..
Almost consumed me..
As i felt like i went with her..
Lived where she lived in the inner city..
Where we spent days exploring uptown…
Where we were loud during the silent nights..
Where her mother was mine..
And her mentality..
Her strength..
Felt like something i could get behind..
How her daddy made me feel feeble..
And made me feel like i should get behind him..
And be just as good as a chipper..
Even though the difference..
Would be i want my fingers..
To know grace..
i’d want to know Miss Rosie..
That sweet Georgia rose..
For what she was..
And as i watch her walk through Rosie’s destruction..
i stand up too..
And the fact that with her..
Even the emptying houses..
Emptying families..
Meant nothing when we played by streetlight..
In front of Macy’s..
With my pain..
Of probably being part of one of those families..
Emptying along the invisible trail i made..
Chasing that wheel..
And all its gain..
And how happy i’d be..
If my daddy paid the rent..
And like a disappearing act…
The one that always gets me..
The insurance man is finally something i can’t see..
And Uncle Brad hit a number in the lottery..
And mommy made some bread..
And everyone is drunk which means we don’t have to go to bed..
Good times..
What i’ve been looking for..
Is all that’s in store..
And how even with me not in the army..
i’m only 12 just like her you see..
i still seeked the city..
And i’d still sink it..
One pail at a time..
And how when she took that wagon to the battlefield..
And decided her battle would be with morality..
As she stole old Steinhart’s TV..
For mommy..
i’d be right there with her..
Guiding the horse back home..
And how i’d hate the governor..
For his view on Jackie..
A man who used sports to be a revolutionary..
And how we make it through everything..
The dogs..
Will be no different..
And even with tear gas burning the Buffalo Soldiers eyes..
The tears that fell wouldn’t be real..
For we’d have finally dropped the white man’s names and traditions..
And would be running from tyranny..
And in the direction of
Our history..
And at the end of the buffalo war…
No one would be dead..
But we’d be dying..
But regardless..
We’d be in awe..
At how we have such fine black boys..
That it causes me to want..
To shed tears..
How even with all my power..
And hers..
i can’t emphasize..
With the constant burglary..
How it was something that happened so regularly..
You wondered if there was even something left to take..
Yet still..
No stops..
And lastly..
How her advice to her kids..
Sounded so similar to what my mom says to me..
And not like it isn’t already easier..
But in all she said..
Her poetry..
Just added clarity.

Rickey Strachan

Rickey Strachan

Rickey Strachan is a young poet from Brooklyn, where he attends Cobble Hill School of American Studies ...