Just For A Time

Oh how you used to walk
With that insouciant smile
I liked to hear you talk
And your style
Pleased me for a while.You were my early love
New as a day breaking in Spring
You were the image of
Everything
That caused me to sing.

I don’t like reminiscing
Nostalgia is not my forte
I don’t spill tears
On yesterday’s years
But honesty makes me say,
You were a precious pearl
How I loved to see you shine,
You were the perfect girl.
And you were mine.
For a time.
For a time.
Just for a time.

–Maya Angelou

R.I.P

Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

 

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

 

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.

Our eyes, briefly.

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,

examines,

gnaws on kind words

unsaid,

promised walks

never taken.

 

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,

fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold

caves.

 

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

–Maya Angelou

R.I.P alwaysmaya-angelou-bruni-jazz-art-i-am-isis-300x300

Africa

Thus she had lain

sugar cane sweet

deserts her hair

golden her feet

mountains her breasts

two Niles her tears

Thus she has lain

Black through the years.

Over the white seas

rime white and cold

brigands ungentled

icicle bold

took her young daughters

sold her strong sons

churched her with Jesus

bled her with guns.

Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising

remember her pain

remember the losses

her screams loud and vain

remember her riches

her history slain

now she is striding

although she had lain.

–Maya Angelou

The Gamut

Soft day, be velvet soft,

My true love approaches,

Look you bright, you dusty sun,

Array your golden coaches.

Soft you wind, be soft as silk

My true love is speaking.

Hold you birds, your silver throats,

His golden voice I’m seeking.

Come you death, in haste, do come

My shroud of black be weaving,

Quiet my heart, be deadly quiet,

My true love is leaving.

–Maya Angelou

I Know You Rest In Peace

Maya Angelou, my hero, died at age 86 in her beautiful home in North Carolina today.

“She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace,” said her son, Guy B. Johnson.

Her poem “Still I Rise,” was the first I ever recited, ever memorized, ever performed, and ever loved. As a kid her words found me in a dark place when no one else’s did, and continue to inspire me to rise beyond who I was. My only hope is that she passed knowing that she moved countless generations to poetry, and that she fermented a love of language that could leap oceans.

Inaugural, outstanding poet, will never cover how much Maya Angelou meant to the literary community. Her life and works awe millions. So I challenge you this day, in honor of a woman who was always more than just a poet, to rise above and believe that words can make a difference. In truth, they are the only things that have ever infected and effected change.

 

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 1928
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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.Maya Angelou in Oil