slaveships

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
loaded like spoons
into the belly of Jesus
where we lay for weeks for months
in the sweat and stink
of our own breathing
Jesus
why do you not protect us
chained to the heart of the Angel
where the prayers we never tell
and hot and red
as our bloody ankles
Jesus
Angel
can these be men
who vomit us out from ships
called Jesus    Angel    Grace of God
onto a heathen country
Jesus
Angel
ever again
can this tongue speak
can these bones walk
Grace Of God
can this sin live

Lucille Clifton, “slaveships” from Blessing the Boats: New And Selected Poems 1988-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. www.boaeditions.org.

Source: The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton (BOA Editions Ltd., 1996)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, 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 Religion, Christianity, God & the Divine, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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