poets.org

2

poem-a-day

poem-a-day
Sign up to receive an unpublished poem every day in your inbox.
today's poet
Kimberly Johnson

Farrow

About this Poem 

“I’ve been experimenting with this form, which features almost-rhymes over mixed-line stanzas.  I suspect that my thinking formally about size and containment led naturally to this meditation on the way the pregnant body seems so unmanageably excessive.”
Kimberly Johnson

Farrow

Kimberly Johnson, 1971

Full in the fat wallow of me,
                     Superfluity
           Even to the marrow—

Blood plumping along in a red swell
                     Of venules
           Blushing my most unabashed

Skinpatches: nosetip, earlobe, wristshallow.  O
                      This mother
            Is a crush of too-muchness,

A malady of my baffled self awash.
                      Accomplished
            Finally the days, will I find

My bones I lost, will my sharps and edges
                      Hedge this fleshy
            Habit I’ve made of excess?

Already my heartracing startles
                      In another’s
            Twitches, my dinner hiccups

Another’s diaphragm. Already and almost
                      I swear I feel
            The protein creep of me, cell

By splitting cell, into another’s life.
                     This mother-grief
            Sorrows not for the heart-close one

I’ll lose from me at my delivery
                     But for my own
            Soul overboiling, unbound, bound

To a stranger’s groans, undone by his hurts
                     And remorses
            To the third and fourth

Generations.  What I’m birthing is my own
                     Diffusion.
            Never again mere. Never again my own.

Copyright © 2015 by Kimberly Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Kimberly Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

advertisement
Sam Beam of Iron & Wine at Poetry & the Creative Mind, New York City, 2015. Photo credit: Jennifer Trahan.
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
Alberto Ríos at the Southwestern Poetry Festival, New York Historical Society, 1991
collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

collection

A Poet's Glossary

Each week we feature a new term from Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch's April 2014 book A Poet's Glossary. Ten years in the making, Hirsch's book is an international, inclusive collection of the poetic terms that define the art form.