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The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

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A complete collection—over 300 poems—from one of this country's most influential poets.

"These are poems which blaze and pulse on the page."—Adrienne Rich "The first declaration of a black, lesbian feminist identity took place in these poems, and set the terms—beautifully, forcefully—for contemporary multicultural and pluralist debate."—Publishers Weekly "This is an amazing collection of poetry by . . . one of our best contemporary poets. . . . Her poems are powerful, often political, always lyrical and profoundly moving."—Chuckanut Reader Magazine "What a deep pleasure to encounter Audre Lorde's most potent genius . . . you will welcome the sheer accessibility and the force and beauty of this volume."—Out Magazine

ISBN-13: 9780393319729

Media Type: Paperback(Reprint)

Publisher: Norton W. W. & Company Inc.

Publication Date: 02-17-2000

Pages: 512

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) published eleven volumes of poetry and five works of prose. Her constellation of honors includes honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin, and Haverford colleges.

Read an Excerpt

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

By Audre Lorde

W. W. Norton & Company

Copyright ©2000 Audre Lorde
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0393319725

Chapter One

Memorial II

What are you seeing
In my mirror this morning
Peering out like a hungry bird
From behind my eyes
Are you seeking the shape of a girl
I have grown less and less to resemble
Or do you remember
I could never accept your face dying
I do not know you now
Surely your vision stayed stronger than mine
Genevieve tell me where dead girls
Wander after their summer.

I wish I could see you again
Far from me--even
Birdlike flying into the sun
Your eyes are blinding me Genevieve.

A Family Resemblance

My sister has my hair my mouth my eyes
And I presume her trustless.
When she was young, and open to any fever
Wearing gold like a veil of fortune on her face,
She waited through each rain a dream of light.
But the sun came up
Burning our eyes like crystal
Bleaching the sky of promise and
My sister stood
Black, unblessed and unbelieving
Shivering in the first cold show of love.

I saw her gold become an arch
Where nightmare hunted
Down the porches
Of her restless nights.
Now through the echoes of denial
She walks a bleached side of reason
Secret now
My sisternever waits,
Nor mourns the gold that wandered from her bed.

My sister has my tongue
And all my flesh unanswered
And I presume her trustless as a stone.


Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth's inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame
How a sound comes into a word, coloured
By who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book--buy and sign and tear apart--
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
Bedevil me.

Love is a word another kind of open--
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth's inside
Take my word for jewel in your open light.

To My Daughter The Junkie
On A Train

Children we have not borne
bedevil us by becoming
painfully sharp and unavoidable
like a needle in our flesh.

Coming home on the subway from a PTA meeting
of minds committed like murder
or suicide
to their own private struggle
a long-legged girl with a horse in her brain
slumps down beside me
begging to be ridden asleep
for the price of a midnight train
free from desire.
Little girl on the nod
if we are measured by the dreams we avoid
then you are the nightmare
of all sleeping mothers
rocking back and forth
the dead weight of your arms
locked about our necks
heavier than our habit
of looking for reasons.

My corrupt concern will not replace
what you once needed
but I am locked into my own addictions
and offer you my help, one eye
for my own station.
Roused and deprived
your costly dream explodes
into a terrible technicoloured laughter
at my failure
up and down across the aisle
women avert their eyes
as the other mothers who became useless
curse their children who became junk.


In what had been a pathway
our bed and a shared bathroom
broken hours lap at my heels
reaching my toothbrush
I see
wide valleys filled with water
folding into myself
I cross them into the shower the
tiles right themselves
in retreat
my skin thrills
bruised and battered
as thunderspray splatters
plasma on my horizons
when no more rain comes
I cast me out lightly
on tiptoe
shifting and lurching
against my eyes
plastic curtains
I hung
last December
watching the sun flee
through patterns
always and never
I spiced my armpits
courting the solstice
and never once did I abandon
I would contrive
to make my world
whole again.


Seven holes in my heart where flames live
in the shape of a tree
upside down
bodies hang in the branches
Bernadine selling coconut candy
on the war-rutted road to St. Georges
my son's bullet-proof vest
dark children
dripping off the globe
like burned cheese.

Pale early girls spread themselves
handkerchiefs in the grass
near willow
a synchronized throb of air
swan's wins are beating
strong enough to break a man's leg
all the signs say
do not touch.

Large solid women
walk the parapets beside me
mythic hunted
what we cannot remember
hungry hungry
songs at midnight
prepare me for morning.


Excerpted from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde Copyright ©2000 by Audre Lorde. Excerpted by permission.
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