Wednesday, June 10, 2009

for lucille clifton (23)

the gallows sang the yarn
for lucille clifton
the gallows sang the yarn,
a savage song of yore,
a twice big mama’s tale.
her voice, dahomey born,
her voice would not be stilled,
controlled; her voice rebuked
the slaver’s rope, disdained
virginy’s gibbet death,
the first black female slave
to hang, to [l]awful die.

the gallows sang the yarn
& u, lucille, took up
its bittersweet refrain;
a legacy passed down
to u, by word of mouth
passed down to u, a charge
to keep passed down to u
to soak, insinuate
the rhythms, stress & tone
in poems u deftly write

of mothers, daughters, girls
& wives, of lovers true
& loved ones false. u write
black women fetish free,
complex in their identity
& splendid body change;
a brand new woman poem
unlike adoring odes
of men that mask a mean
& surly dominance.

soft anaphora swells
yr crafted lines; so too
the lean epistrophe.
yr rhymes aslant in sleek
iambic trimeter,
evoke a woman’s pain
& joy – triumphant birth
& loss of uterus;
the brazen menstrual flow,
the dry of menopause.

the gallows sang the yarn
but u did coax it thru’
yr poet’s soul, transformed
the same to womansong.
yr fertile mind could see
yr own great grandma thru’
to legendary planes;
yr mortal body thru’
to new identity
& now u live the yarn!

©Joseph McNair;2009


  1. This is yet another good poem. You should write a book.

  2. I agree with Dayana this is a another good poem. You should make a Poetry book.