We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I'll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.
Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
Are gone from the house.
My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine toothed comb.
Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
From the first it had been like a
Ballad. It had the beat inevitable. It had the blood.
A wildness cut up, and tied in little bunches,
Like the four-line stanzas of the ballads she had never quite
Rudolph Reed was oaken.
His wife was oaken too.
And his two good girls and his good little man
Oakened as they grew.