Treasure Island

Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Momma Welfare Roll


Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback
And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation
Of crimes clichéd by
Repetition. Her children, strangers
To childhood's toys, play
Best the games of darkened doorways,
Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
Other people's property.

Too fat to whore,
Too mad to work,
Searches her dreams for the
Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
Into a den of bureaucrats for
Her portion.
'They don't give me welfare.
I take it.'

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Friday, July 27, 2012

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  • Patricia Grantham (6/17/2013 8:53:00 PM)

    Maya you really hit the target with this poem. As they say
    in the old school You really took the rag off the bush! .
    A straight and to the nitty gritty write. An eye opener. (Report) Reply

  • Martine Bland (9/24/2011 8:16:00 PM)

    Go to any 'social services' building in any urban city and wittness this poem in action and rare form..only, Maya's depiction gives us a flare of pride about it. (Report) Reply

  • Penny Penny (8/22/2009 11:29:00 PM)

    She doesn't want to work. The judge had to make her get a job, she kept it for a few months, left, moved away, came back, said she didn't want to pay rent and just moved out without notice....so now she is waiting for the government to give her somewhere to stay for free......lazzy a(want to know where she now stays...i just can't muster up enough words to express and or say) ..... (Report) Reply

  • Penny Penny (8/22/2009 11:22:00 PM)

    Sounds a lot like my husbands baby mama. You know she still calls him to ask for personal items, he pays child support and still some. You know this b called and asked him to give her a kidney................... (Report) Reply

  • Ruth Ngungi (11/21/2007 7:43:00 AM)

    SOmehow for me, i feel this poem ends premature.....there is som uch i feel might have been in the mind that beings that first stanza. It touches me even as a woman, and somehow i feel this 'fat' woman had more to say......much more to say of her circumstances and attitudes that have shaped outy of her struggles....amazing piece. (Report) Reply

  • Steve Mcdonald (4/22/2007 9:21:00 PM)

    Anybody could write 'one of mya's', celebrating the inprovident, incapable and slatternly. (Report) Reply

  • Quiana Harlin (4/17/2005 7:58:00 AM)

    i'm a poet i love mya she inspires me i havbe three kids though and would love to be a poet some day but for know all i can is take care of them i write some amazing stuff is always suprises me like i wrote that that could be one of mya's
    poems but i would love to get one on here so you could see (Report) Reply

Read all 10 comments »

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