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About this Poem 

“Dear Mama (4)” appeared in Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems and Stories, 1968–1986 (Black Sparrow Press, 1987).

Dear Mama (4)

when did we become friends?
it happened so gradual i didn't notice
maybe i had to get my run out first
take a big bite of the honky world and choke on it
maybe that's what has to happen with some uppity youngsters
if it happens at all

and now
the thought stark and irrevocable
of being here without you
shakes me

beyond love, fear, regret or anger
into that realm children go
who want to care for/protect their parents
as if they could
and sometimes the lucky ones do

into the realm of making every moment
important
laughing as though laughter wards off death
each word given
received like spanish eight

treasure to bury within
against that shadow day
when it will be the only coin i possess
with which to buy peace of mind

From Heavy Daughter Blues by Wanda Coleman. Copyright © 1987 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted by permission of Black Sparrow Press, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher.

From Heavy Daughter Blues by Wanda Coleman. Copyright © 1987 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted by permission of Black Sparrow Press, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher.

Wanda Coleman

Wanda Coleman

Born in 1946, Wanda Coleman was the author of several poetry collections, including Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

by this poet

poem
the fall of
velvet plum points and umber aureolae

remember living

forget cool evening air kisses the rush of 
liberation freed from the brassiere

forget the cupping of his hands the pleasure 
his eyes looking down/anticipating

forget his mouth. his tongue at the nipples 
his intense hungry nursing

forget
poem
boooooooo. spooky ripplings of icy waves. this 
umpteenth time she returns--this invisible woman 
long on haunting short on ectoplasm

"you're a good man, sistuh," a lover sighed solongago. 
"keep your oil slick and your motor running."

wretched stained mirrors within mirrors of 
fractured webbings like
2
poem
               after Lowell


our mothers wrung hell and hardtack from row
      and boll. fenced others'
gardens with bones of lovers. embarking 
      from Africa in chains
reluctant pilgrims stolen by Jehovah's light 
      planted here the bitter
seed of blight and here eternal torches mark