Ntozake Shange

(October 18, 1948 / Trenton, New Jersey)

With No Immediate Cause

Poem by Ntozake Shange

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a
woman is raped/every ten minutes
a lil girl is molested
yet i rode the subway today
i sat next to an old man who
may have beaten his old wife
3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago
he might have sodomized his
daughter but i sat there
cuz the young men on the train
might beat some young women
later in the day or tomorrow
i might not shut my door fast
every 3 minutes it happens
some woman's innocence
rushes to her cheeks/pours from her mouth
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn
apart/their mouths
menses red & split/every
three minutes a shoulder
is jammed through plaster and the oven door/
chairs push thru the rib cage/hot water or
boiling sperm decorate her body
i rode the subway today
& bought a paper from a
man who might
have held his old lady onto
a hot pressing iron/i don't know
maybe he catches lil girls in the
park & rips open their behinds
with steel rods/i can't decide
what he might have done i only
know every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so
i bought the paper
looking for the announcement
the discovery/of the dismembered
woman's body/the
victims have not all been
identified/today they are
naked and dead/refuse to
testify/one girl out of 10's not
coherent/i took the coffee
& spit it up/i found an
announcement/not the woman's
bloated body in the river/floating
not the child bleeding in the
59th street corridor/not the baby
broken on the floor/
there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder their
husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause'

i spit up i vomit i am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day
women's bodies are found
in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs
before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink
coffee/i must know/
have you hurt a woman today
did you beat a woman today
throw a child across a room
are the lil girl's panties
in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today
i have to ask these obscene questions
the authorities require me to
establish
immediate cause
every three minutes
every five minutes
every ten minutes
every day.


Comments about With No Immediate Cause by Ntozake Shange

  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (6/5/2020 6:56:00 PM)

    2) ..............CONGRATULATIONS with the honour of being The Modern Poem Of The Day. You are amazing in appealing these alerts. BUT think also there are enough MEN who suffer under a women's beatings. Your poem is true and excellently worded, dear great Poetess! Best wishes from the Netherlands, Sylvia FC Peace to you.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (6/5/2020 6:55:00 PM)

    True to the bones Poetic Alerts. I cite your last lines here, dear Poetess:
    did you hurt a woman today
    i have to ask these obscene questions
    the authorities require me to
    establish
    immediate cause
    every three minutes
    every five minutes
    every ten minutes
    every day..................................YOU are a true good feminist and all honest and true words.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • You are Rock (6/5/2020 2:15:00 PM)

    gut wrenching and disturbing(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (6/5/2020 9:48:00 AM)

    did you hurt a woman today
    i have to ask these obscene questions
    the authorities require me to
    establish
    immediate cause
    every three minutes
    every five minutes.....sensitice inscription. Beautiful poem.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (6/5/2020 5:09:00 AM)

    torture
    torture
    torture
    woman tortured by man
    everywhere, every minute, hour, day, week, month....
    so touching poem this is...... woman has to wake up and be well informed about own rights....and has to be total independent from the cruel clutch of man......10++(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (6/5/2020 4:13:00 AM)

    did you hurt a woman today
    i have to ask these obscene questions
    the authorities require me to
    establish
    immediate cause.. very fine poem. tony(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • James G BrennanJames G Brennan (6/5/2020 2:19:00 AM)

    The awful truth in a mans world. powerful sad poem.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Chinedu DikeChinedu Dike (10/22/2019 9:15:00 PM)

    A poignant rendition of words set aside for sober reflection.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • A B Faniki (7/21/2019 8:07:00 AM)

    Insightful piece. Thanks for spreading the wealth- Knowledge is wealth.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kevin PatrickKevin Patrick (6/5/2019 7:28:00 PM)

    In Canada the commission for missing aboriginal women has declared that a genocide has been committed, this poem is as relevant now as it was written. That is the true horror.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (6/5/2019 1:25:00 PM)

    Victims! ! ! ! !
    Everywhere on earth.


    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Hebert Logerie, Sr. Poet (6/5/2019 11:32:00 AM)

    Born‎: ‎Paulette Linda Williams; October 18,194... Known for‎: ‎for colored girls who have consider...
    Education‎: ‎Columbia University‎ (‎BA‎): ‎University... Died‎: ‎October 27,2018 (aged 70): ‎Bowie, Mar...(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Passing of Ms. Shange last year 2018 (6/5/2019 11:28:00 AM)

    I am sorry to report that she's no longer with us, however, her sister, Ifa Bayeza, a talent and a beauty, is with us.May God bless them!(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Hebert Logerie Sr.Hebert Logerie Sr. (6/5/2019 10:59:00 AM)

    Congratulations Ms. Shange, This is a beautiful poem, yet serious, controversial, graphic, uncomfortable and heart-wrenching. This is a sad reality for many women and girls. Thank you for making us aware of the mistakes that we, men, make sometimes. Let's pray for all parties. Stop the violence!(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (6/5/2019 6:25:00 AM)

    How women and girls are tortured has been so touchingly and incisively delineated. It is really a brilliant poem by Ntozake Shange.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rose Marie Juan-austinRose Marie Juan-austin (6/5/2019 6:14:00 AM)

    A very powerful poem.
    Poignant and so gripping.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Suman MondalSuman Mondal (6/5/2019 4:40:00 AM)

    did you hurt a woman today
    i have to ask these obscene questions
    the authorities require me to
    establish
    immediate cause
    every three minutes
    every five minutes
    every ten minutes
    every day.....very serious poem(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rajnish MangaRajnish Manga (6/5/2019 3:38:00 AM)

    It's indeed serious. Women and girls of all ages are being targeted by maniacs.
    You have voiced their plight vociferously. Thanks.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (6/5/2019 2:05:00 AM)

    Emotionally strong and powerful poem that gives light to the sad reality. Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (6/5/2019 1:15:00 AM)

    One of the best poems by Ntozake Shange........................(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
Read all 22 comments »




Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011