the message of crazy horse

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
i would sit in the center of the world,   
the Black Hills hooped around me and   
dream of my dancing horse. my wife

was Black Shawl who gave me the daughter   
i called They Are Afraid Of Her.   
i was afraid of nothing

except Black Buffalo Woman.   
my love for her i wore
instead of feathers. i did not dance

i dreamed. i am dreaming now
across the worlds. my medicine is strong.   
my medicine is strong in the Black basket   
of these fingers. i come again through this

Black Buffalo woman. hear me;   
the hoop of the world is breaking.   
fire burns in the four directions.
the dreamers are running away from the hills.   
i have seen it. i am crazy horse.

Lucille Clifton, “the message of crazy horse” from Next. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd.,

Source: Next (1987)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

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 Lucille  Clifton


A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton's work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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