jasper texas 1998

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton

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.

Lucille Clifton, "jasper texas 1998" from Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 (BOA Editions Ltd., 2000)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Crime & Punishment, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lucille  Clifton

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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