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Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems

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“Though we have encountered our share of grief and troubles on this earth, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat. No small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.”
— from the preface

I was born to grow,
alongside my garden of plants,
poems
like
this one

So writes Alice Walker in this new book of poems, poems composed over the course of one year in response to joy and sorrow both personal and global: the death of loved ones, war, the deliciousness of love, environmental devastation, the sorrow of rejection, greed, poverty, and the sweetness of home. The poems embrace our connections while celebrating the joy of individuality, the power we each share to express our truest, deepest selves. Beloved for her ability to speak her own truth in ways that speak for and about countless others, she demonstrates that we are stronger than our circumstances. As she confronts personal and collective challenges, her words dance, sing, and heal.

ISBN-13: 9781608681884

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: New World Library

Publication Date: 08-27-2013

Pages: 184

Product Dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Alice Walker is known around the world for her fiction, poetry, essays, and human rights activism. She was honored with the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Read an Excerpt

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing


By Alice Walker, Shiloh McCloud

New World Library

Copyright © 2010 Alice Walker
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-282-9



CHAPTER 1

YES, I KNOW


Yes, I know I am not
a farmer
and that you
are
not
a gypsy
or a king:
Have you ever
heard
of
poetic license?
It is when
for instance
the poet
writes
buffaloes
instead
of buffalo
because
their
numbers
are now
so
thin
&
she
does
not
want
the remaining
tiny
herds
to feel
lonely.

I claim
farming ancestry:
Generations
going back
sometimes
farther
than
I wish
to look:
All those Africans
& their
yam & cassava fields
the Indians &
their corn
&
beans
the English
& their
collard plants
the Scots
their
what?
crabgrass?
maybe oats!
the Irish
their potatoes
the Elves
their
herbs.

All killing themselves
now
by the thousands
farmers
killing themselves
by
their own
calloused
hands;
not just
in India,
where suicide
among
farmers
is
a leading cause
of
death
but in
America
too
they are doing
it.

How can this be?
And how can
we
bear
the
loss?

So I claim
them
in
myself:
I
am
that.


I too
run after
the Earth
as it disappears
beneath
my feet;

I too
mourn
machines moving
over her face
without
empathy
or
love
of
her.

Even so,
you are
quite right:
I am not
a "farmer"
as most
would think
of
it:
Tilling my tiny
plots
of corn
&
beans;
collards
&
squash;
strawberries:
Leaning more
&
more
on the strength
& youth
of
others
as time
moves on.

No, I was born to grow,
alongside my garden of plants,
poems
like
this one:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]


YOU CONFIDE IN ME


You confide
in me
that
you
are lonely,

that romance
juicy
&
red
never stays
long
at
your
house.
But when
I visit
you
what
do I
find?

You do not
own
a sofa!
Without
a sofa
preferably
burgundy
or maroon
you cannot
expect
to
have romance
come
&
stay
in your
house.

A sofa is
essential
to all
that
lures
romance
to
your boudoir;

I cannot
believe
you are
so old
&
do not
know
this.

Well, lucky
for you
I am older!


Trying to have
romance
sit down,
visit
&
decide to
stay
with
you
when you have
no sofa
on
which
to sit
is like
using one
hand
in the
vast
ocean
to
catch
a
large fish.


YOU'D BE SURPRISED


You'd be surprised
to find
how cleansing
it feels
to depose
a
dictator:
There she is
anticipating your
every wish
seeking to orchestrate
your every
desire.
Get rid of her!
Life is too broad
a country
to tolerate
such foolishness
in your
own
small
yard.


VASILISA


My sisters
abandoned me.
I might have
died
from their
calculated
indifference
& neglect.
Still
I ran after
them
like a beggar
holding
out
my trust.


SOMETIMES


Sometimes
who knows how?
the body & the soul
come back
together
again
the hand
holding the pen
writes
not advertising
but
heart.


EASY


When I understood
you were
a tiger
learning to love
& not
devour
a monkey
I could rest
easy
under
your paws.


COMPATIBLE


We are not
compatible
said the
tiger
to
the bear.
The tiger
was spitting
out blackberry
seeds
barely disguising
his
disgust.
The bear
was feeling
foolish
a leaping
antelope
between
his teeth.


THE ANSWER IS YES


You must
run around like a
crazy person
or
walk
sedately
honoring
the
dead.


MY TEACHER


Marley Mu came into my life when life was dragging
and while teaching her how to pee in the right place,
eat without too much slobber
kiss me without stopping up my nose
she made me see that life is always
wonderful
it is only us
who
get off track
&
cannot see
the magic.

We were together
thirteen long years,
good years,
& she was my
teacher.

All her life
I knew where she was
every night
except two.

There were many who loved her.
And even one night when she
was lost
her sweet spirit sent her rescuers
to find me.

I will miss her, the Marley Mu
who came to live
with me
& yet
one other thing
she taught
is that
there is only one
Mu
& so
I learned
that she is the sweet
black Lab
— on the beach
in the street —
still
coming
lovingly
to greet
me
everywhere.

Alice Walker Mu — June 13, 2008


THIS ROOM

This room
is very powerful:
Buddha, golden,
holding down one side;
the primordial
Great Mother, black,
offering her
bead
of mitochondria
holding down
the other.
My meditation
chairs
are made of wicker
a miracle
crafted by
human hands.
Human being
may I not
forget you
in all
this talk
of God.


STILL


I have found
powerful
love
among
my sisters
I have
shredded
every
veil
and still
believe
in them.


LOST

My daughter
is lost
to me
but I am not
lost:
She says
freedom
to her
means
having a loving
mother;
which
as Mu* is my witness,
I have been
&
am.

However:

Liberation
is in
the heart
of
the tethered
as Harriet**
teaches us.
I bow
to
this history
&
our difference.


Freedom
to me
means
love itself
may not
be
chained
&
that
I
at the very least

may
own
myself.


IN US


In us
the old dark
Indians
reappear

who were
not
wrong

though
chopped
in half
for living
on their
sacred
lands.

In us
the old
dark
Indians
reappear
silent
disclosing
our
massacres
by our
lack
of
trust

silent
unmoved
by
word or
deed

straight
of
back
&
silent
above all
in our
wooden
chairs.


CALLING ALL GRAND MOTHERS

We have to live
differently

or we
will die
in the same

old ways.

Therefore
I call on all Grand Mothers
everywhere
on the planet
to rise
and take your place
in the leadership
of the world

Come out
of the kitchen
out of the
fields
out of the
beauty parlors
out of the
television

Step forward
& assume
the role
for which
you were
created:

To lead humanity
to health, happiness
& sanity.

I call on
all the
Grand Mothers
of Earth
& every person
who possesses
the Grand Mother
spirit
of respect for
life
&
protection of
the young
to rise
& lead.

The life of
our species
depends
on it.

& I call on all men
of Earth
to gracefully
and
gratefully

stand aside
& let them
(let us)
do so.


ONE EARTH


One Earth
One People
One Love

One Earth
One People
One Love

One Earth
One People
One Love


THE TASTE OF GRUDGE

The soul knows pain but is never diminished, injured, or
destroyed. Thank you, Clarissa, for teaching this.


I.

How many
times
life
has
seemed
too steep
a
hill
to
climb
how
many times
the hill
has disappeared
like
mist.

I am carried
in arms
that planned
adventure
for
my life

I sit nowhere
I am
told
to
stand.

II.

You
will
concern
me
in
my dreams
&
in my
hour
of
death:

I love you
in & out
of
all
assignments.

Obviously
we
had
work
to
do.

III.

Do not fight
the despair
of
harming
me.
To my
kindness
you
have
been
rude
&
more.
Something
in life
evens
every
score
&
I am left
to
say
even
if I disappear
be
safe.

IV.

Let the
joyful
heart
that
knows
the
dance
return!
Sorrow has
banished
it,
grief
has
stilled
my feet.
But there
remains
internal
movement
toward
life's
margin
where
all
begins
again
in
solemn
beat.

V.

Who can
completely
stop
a gift?

My love
will flow
around
your
rocks
break
your
dam
& live
in
all
the
trampled
plants
of
your
fouled
wilderness.

It is a bright
spring
glowing
rippling
overflowing
in
the
shade.

I do not
regret
that
I am
imperfect.

In each crack
there is
an orchid
growing

& chocolate
serves
me
when

I
slip
from
grace.

I do not
relish
perfection
or sainthood.

Flying
through
this
existence
as
myself
I honor
all
the
fierce
edges
I have
made
for
myself
&
the conundrums
I have
made
for
you.

VI.

There is
no God
but
love
which
is
what
I
have
become.

Just a
part
a
tiny
part
of
it
beyond
anger
beyond
blame
but
not

beyond
the
peace
still
possible
to
all
in this
world.

VII.

I do not
mourn
that is not
the feeling
I have
but rather
I feel
the
cool
darkness
inside
me
steady
as a
slowly