Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!
Death, be not proud, though some have called theeMighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrowDie not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,And soonest our best men with thee do go,Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,And poppy or charms can make us sleep as wellAnd better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?One short sleep past, we wake eternallyAnd death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
The thick-walled room’s cave-darkness,cool in summer, soothesby saying, This is the truth, not the tautcicada-strummed daylight.Rest here, out of the flame—the thick air’sstirred by the fan’s fourslow-moving spoons; under the house the stonehas its feet in deep water.Outside, even the sun god, dressed in this lifeas a lizard, abruptly riseson stiff legs and descends blasé toward the shadows.
You may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut 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 wellsPumping 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 minesDiggin’ 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 surpriseThat I dance like I've got diamondsAt the meeting of my thighs?Out of the huts of history’s shameI riseUp from a past that’s rooted in painI riseI'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that’s wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.
This poem will be guilty. It assumed it retainedthe right to ask its question after the pagecame up flush against its face. The purposethis poem serves is obvious, even to this poem,and that cannot stop the pen or the fistchoking it. How the page tastes at times— unsaltedpowerlessness in this poem’s mouth, a blendof that and what it has swallowed of the news. It spitsblood—inking. It is its own doing and undoing.This poem is trying to compose itself. It hasthe right to remain either bruised or silent,but it is a poem, so it hears you’d be saferif you stopped acting like a poem, ceased resisting.Where is the daylight (this poem asks and isthus crushed) between existence and resistance,between the now-bloodied page and the poem?Another poem will record the arrest of this poem,decide what to excerpt. That poem will fail—it won’t find the right metaphor for the painof having to lift epigraphs from the closingwords of poems that were accused of resisting. That poem is numb. This poem is becomingnumb, already losing feeling in its cuffed phrasing.No one will remember the nothing of whichthis poem was accused—just that it was anotherpoem that bled. This poem never expected to bethis poem, yet it must be—for you who will notacknowledge the question. This poem knewit was dangerous to ask why?
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