Today’s Thoughtful Thursday continues the celebration of Women’s History Month, featuring women poets from a variety of cultures and generations. Today we offer a delightful assortment of poems about women by women. First Patricia Smith (b.1955) gives us a “Hip Hop Ghazal” celebrating femininity. A ghazal, originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, consists of couplets and an intricate rhyme scheme. The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s.
Next, Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), a Thoughtful Thursday favorite, trumpets her resilience with pride in “Won’t You Celebrate With Me?”. Then Marie Ponsot (b.1921) writes of the joys of wandering in “Among Women”. Anne Waldman (b.1945) captures so many facets of women in “From Fast Speaking Woman, Part 1”. And finally, wise and motivational prose from the recently departed artist Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019), counseling women how to “Be Prepared”.
A great mix of poetry to continue our celebration! Share with your children and enjoy.
Hip Hop Ghazal
Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.
As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.
Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping ‘tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.
Engines grinding, rotating, smokin’, gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.
Gotta love us girls, just struttin’ down Manhattan streets
killing the menfolk with a dose of that stinging view. Hips.
Crying ’bout getting old—Patricia, you need to get up off
what God gave you. Say a prayer and start slinging. Cue hips.
Won’t You Celebrate With Me
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
What women wander?
Not many. All. A few.
Most would, now & then,
& no wonder.
Some, and I’m one,
Wander sitting still.
My small grandmother
Bought from every peddler
Less for the ribbons and lace
Than for their scent
Of sleep where you will,
Walk out when you want, choose
Your bread and your company.
She warned me, “Have nothing to lose.”
She looked fragile but had
High blood, runner’s ankles,
Could endure, endure.
She loved her rooted garden, her
Grand children, her once
Wild once young man.
As best they can.
From Fast Speaking Woman, Part 1
I’m a rock woman
I’m a horse woman
I’m a monkey woman
I’m a chipmunk woman
I’m a mountain woman
I’m a blue mountain woman
I’m a marsh woman
I’m a jungle woman
I’m a tundra woman
I’m the lady in the lake
I’m the lady in the sand
water that cleans
flowers that clean
water that cleans as I go
I’m a bird woman
I’m a book woman
I’m a devilish clown woman
I’m a holy-clown woman
I’m a whirling-dervish woman
I’m a whirling-foam woman
I’m a playful-light woman
I’m a tidal-pool woman
I’m a fast speaking woman
to have your brain picked
to have the pickings misunderstood
to be mistreated whether your success
increases or decreases
to have detraction move with admiration – instep
to have your time wasted
your intentions distorted
the simplest relationships in your thoughts twisted
to be USED and MISUSED
to be “copy” to be copied to want to cope out cop out pull in and away
if you are a woman (and things are not utterly changed)
they will almost never believe you really did it
(what you did do)
they will worship you they will ignore you they will malign
you they will pamper you
they will try to take what you did as their own
(a woman doesn’t understand her best discoveries after all)
they will patronize you humor you
try to sleep with you want you to transform them with your energy
they will berate your energy they will try to be part of your
sexuality they will deny your sexuality/or your work they
will depend on you for information for generosity they will
forget whatever help you give they will try to be heroic for
you they will not help you when they might they will bring
problems they will ignore your problems a few will appreciate
deeply they will be loving you as what you do as what you
are loving how you are being they will of course be strong in
themselves and clear and they will NOT be married to quite
tame drones they will not say what a great mother you would
be or do you like to cook and where you might expect under-
standing and appreciation you must expect NOTHING then
enjoy whatever gives-to-you as long as it does and however and
NEVER justify yourself just do what you feel carry it strongly