Things that Keep Me Living: A Poem About My Rights by June Jordan

This poem got me through some tough times before, and it’s still a little lantern of one black woman’s rage and survival:

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
go to Poetry Foundation for the rest of it or listen to June Jordan herself recite it.

National Poetry Month — Poetry Hit

April is National Poetry Month in the US. To celebrate, I’m going to post some of the poems I loved at 17.

THE SECOND COMING

by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 

Also famous for the title of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

I loved Leda and the Swan, but since that’s a poem about rape that I cannot love as an adult, check out June Jordan‘s Poem About My Rights, which I discovered about three years later.