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About this Poem 

“My Mama moved among the days” was first published in Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969–1980 (BOA Editions, 1987). 

My Mama moved among the days

My Mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in a field;
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in

From The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

From The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton, the author of Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, 2000), which won the National Book Award, was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999.

by this poet

poem
for j. byrd


i am a man's head hunched in the road.
i was chosen to speak by the members
of my body.   the arm as it pulled away
pointed toward me, the hand opened once
and was gone.

why and why and why
should i call a white man brother?
who is the human in this place,
the thing that is dragged or the
poem
so
the body
of one black man
is rag and stone
is mud
and blood
the body of one
black man
contains no life
worth loving
so the body
of one black man
is nobody
mama
mama
mamacita
is there no value
in this skin
mama
mama
if we are nothing
why
should we spare
the neighborhood
mama
mama
who will be next and
why should