Still the most powerful poem til this day

1 11 2007

I read this poem during my early college days in English class and I never could forget how depthly powerful the words in this piece really are. Read it when the chips against you, it never fails to inspire. 

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But 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 wells
Pumping 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 mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

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 surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.



As I Grew Older

30 04 2007

Langston Hughes was an African-American poet during the early-mid 20th century, wrote a lot about rising up because of racial prejudice. Just got me thinking how you dream when you’re young but as your grow older they become less and less poignant, this poem is something that keeps me up:

As I Grew Older

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun–
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky–
The wall.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

 Langston Hughes

How Things Work

6 08 2006

by Gary Soto

Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother’s violin.
We’re completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won’t let go
Of a balled sock until there’s chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy a goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip, a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.

“Because It is There”

22 07 2006

By Hans Tan

Mallory said.
“It” was the mountain of a war to come,
A war without borders.
Where death was chosen by the
Hand of nature and not by man’s own will.
Yes, he was familiar with both.
Mount Everest seemed a myth, unlike war,
Tales spun from Earth’s most isolated peak
Never left the lips of those who tried and fell.
While the mountains laid among the clouds
Mallory seized the wings to rise above
And when he rose, he rose with the angels
Until his waning strength gave no more.
And as he softly knocked on heaven’s door
He felt the caress of Geraniums and
Button flowers that remind him of Ruth,
The wife he loved but never truly knew.
Within the green, Himalayan valleys
His charming eyes quietly cry, asking
For the chance to see his home one more time.
The air shrills with his cold fears that soon will
Drift away to a different time and place.
Slowly, eyes that have seen what few only
Can hope to imagine or dare to dream,
Close without remorse, still as the candid moon.
Winds bawl like sirens, caressing the snow,
Blanketing the shell of a soldier as
Tired arms fade away in the snow.

*This poem written in reference to George Mallory’s climb of Mount Everest in 1924, supposedly he made it to the summit, and if this was the case he would have been the first person to have reach its peak without the use of oxygen tanks. However, conflicting reports may have suggest otherwise and in fact he may hae perished along with his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, after they reportedly “were going strong for the top”.

Celestials Built the Transcontinental Railroads

22 07 2006

By Hans Tan

I heard celestials built the great railroad
That crosses the Sierra Nevada,
Where east meets west.
I imagine other worldly beings
Too alien to interpret through humans senses
Dotting the naked landscape of chiseled earth
Within low, high, and in-between crests.
Marching through merciless desert dunes
So dry that even the air itself is lifeless.
They make way for miles of steel ties and tracks,
Speaking in their own galactic gabble
That would make the average American man back then
Question their baked yellow skin.
Question their slant-riddled, dusty brown eyes.
Question their skinny crossed up legs.
Question their humble bows and gestures.
Question their mud stained bamboo hats
Question their porcelain rice bowls
Question their delicate chopsticks
Question their ching chang chong.

Question these celestial Chinese men
Who brought East and West together
Without answers.

*A poem dedicated to the Chinese immigrants who sacrificed everything to build the Transcontinental railroad across the Sierra and beyond during the late 19th century in America, these workers did not request any recognition or need for it, they represent the true meaning of being patriotic and doing what was right, that is, serving a cause without question or asking for anything in return.*