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Friday Night Poetry Corner #62

Good evening my Peoples…

Welcome to another edition of Friday Night Poetry Corner #62.  I am sorry for the lateness but let me tell you.  I was out with co-workers/friends at a happy hour in Fairfax, VA.  Before I arrived I was low on gas and I remembered what my Father use to tell me “Fill you tank up in freezing weather.  If the temperature is really low but have your car sit near empty, it will freeze your remaining gas which would cause your car not to start..”

Needless to say I did not fill my tank up and afterwards was stuck in the parking lot.  Now I called Triple AAA but then I finally came to the realization, “You need gas jackass.”  Most High bless I was near a gas station; bought a gas container and filled it with a gallon of gas.  Put the gas in my car and—BOOM!!!

Not a car explosion***

It started!!  I drove to that gas station and filled it up.  Moral of this story, always heed the advice of your parents.

 

OK with that brief description of the good and bad of my evening here is a great African-American poet; Lucille Clifton with her masterpiece called “shapeshifter poems.”  Read her bio and read this theme switching, thought moving joint and relax with some late coffee or something.

 

Lucille Clifton

Originally Thelma Lucille Sayles later Lucille Clifton was born June 27, 1936, in Depew, New York although she moved to Buffalo, New York with her family early on in her life. Clifton showed her intelligence even at an early age and graduated high school at only sixteen. She then went on to win a scholarship to Howard University in Washington D.C. although she transferred to Fredonia State Teachers College. During Clifton’s college experience she met some of the people who influenced her life, and writing the most. At Howard Clifton was exposed to the dramatist and poet Amiri Bakara, also know as LeRoi Jones and another poet, Sterling Brown. It’s when Clifton was attending Fredonia State Teachers College that she was experimenting and exploring poetry, drama, and other various things that went on to shape her writing. Also at Fredonia Clifton met her future husband Fred Clifton who at the time held a position as a philosophy professor at the University of Buffalo. Clifton had six children to Fred. The couple was happily married until 1984 when Fred passed away. While Clifton was attending Fredonia she had her big break when Robert Hayden another (better known at the time) African American artist found her works worthy of the YW-YMCA Poetry Center Discovery Award. Not only was this an honor but it led to Clifton’s publication of her first poetry collection, Good Times (1969). Luckily Clifton’s début into the literary scene was a major success. Good Times was claimed to be one of the best books of the year by the New York Times. After this major breakthrough Clifton went on to use the teaching skills she had learned at Fredonia and held positions at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, from 1974 to 1979, professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz, from 1985 to 1989, Distinguished Professor of Literature and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, from 1989 to 1991, and professor of creative writing at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, beginning in 1998, Not to mention she served as the Poet Laureate of the state of Maryland from 1979 to 1985. Clifton is one of the most accomplished women in the literary world. Owner of Pulitzer Prize nominations for poetry in 1980, 1987, and 1991, the Lannan Literary Award for poetry in 1997, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1997, the Los Angeles Times Poetry Award in 1997, the Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Award in 1999, and the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000) also a National Book Award nomination for The Terrible Stories (1996). NO only that but she has been awarded honorary degrees from Colby College, the University of Maryland, Towson State University, Washington College, and Albright College. Lucille Clifton’s work shows true passion for the things of everyday and she was rightfully recognized for her talents.

 

 

shapeshifter poems by Lucille Clifton
1

the legend is whispered
in the women’s tent
how the moon when she rises
full
follows some men into themselves
and changes them there
the season is short
but dreadful shapeshifters
they wear strange hands
they walk through the houses
at night their daughters
do not know them

2

who is there to protect her
from the hands of the father
not the windows which see and
say nothing not the moon
that awful eye not the woman
she will become with her
scarred tongue who who who the owl
laments into the evening who
will protect her this prettylittlegirl

3

if the little girl lies
still enough
shut enough
hard enough
shapeshifter may not
walk tonight
the full moon may not
find him here
the hair on him
bristling
rising
up

4

the poem at the end of the world
is the poem the little girl breathes
into her pillow the one
she cannot tell the one
there is no one to hear this poem
is a political poem is a war poem is a
universal poem but is not about
these things this poem
is about one human heart this poem
is the poem at the end of the world

Credit: Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., http://www.boaeditions.org.

4 thoughts on “Friday Night Poetry Corner #62

  1. Also having a nearly empty tank in very cold weather means if you get stuck you won’t be able to run your engine for long.

    So pleased to see “co-workers” and not the horrible fashion for “coworkers” (people who do unspeakable things to cows).

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