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Ed Skoog

Gwendolyn Brooks Park, Topeka

About this Poem 

“Gwendolyn Brooks, whose work equals or surpasses that of Whitman and Dickinson in significance, for the record, was born in Topeka in 1917, although she moved to Chicago before she was six months old. Topeka is my hometown, and that of many other poets whose names you’d know; there is no explaining it. The modest city park named for her is at Topeka Boulevard and 37th Street, to your right if you’re heading south out of town.”
Ed Skoog

Gwendolyn Brooks Park, Topeka

Ed Skoog

They carved the letters yellow,
and painted
the wood around the letters green,
chained a picnic table to the grass
out near where the roof of the dead
mall directs a crack
of sunset to radiate the Burger King sign gold.
Last place open after midnight:
then apartment windows hold
stars and satellites in the cold.
A creek runs like a paper fold
from one corner of park to other,
twenty or thirty blocks from where
she took her first breaths of infancy
in the only city I know of
with the letters for poet
that does not also carry
a port or a point in its name.

Copyright © 2015 by Ed Skoog. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Ed Skoog. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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May Swenson at Joshua Tree National Park. Used With Permission of the Literary Estate of May Swenson.
poem

Still I Rise

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
1978
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