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Bud, Not Buddy   Tags: bud not buddy, carrasco, carrasco-villalpando  

Last Updated: Apr 2, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

African-American Poets Print Page

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Bud, Not Buddy

Nikki Giovanni

"Knoxville, Tennessee"

I always like summer 
you can eat fresh corn 
From daddy's garden 
And okra 
And greens 
And cabbage 
And lots of 
And buttermilk 
And homemade ice-cream 
At the church picnic 
And listen to 
Gospel music 
At the church 
And go to the mountains with 
Your grandmother 
And go barefooted 
And be warm 
All the time 
Not only when you go to bed 
And sleep


her grandmother called her from the playground
       "yes, ma'am"
       "i want chu to learn how to make rolls" said the old
woman proudly
but the little girl didn't want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn't say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less
dependent on her spirit so
she said
       "i don't want to know how to make no rolls"
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying "lord
       these children"
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does


childhood remembrances are always a drag 
if you're Black 
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn 
with no inside toilet 
and if you become famous or something 
they never talk about how happy you were to have 
your mother 
all to yourself and 
how good the water felt when you got your bath 
from one of those 
big tubs that folk in Chicago barbeque in 
and somehow when you talk about home 
it never gets across how much you 
understood their feelings 
as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale 
and even though you remember 
your biographers never understand 
your father's pain as he sells his stock 
and another dream goes 
And though you're poor it isn't poverty that 
concerns you 
and though they fought a lot 
it isn't your father's drinking that makes any difference 
but only that everybody is together and you 
and your sister have happy birthdays and very good 
and I really hope no white person ever has cause 
to write about me 
because they never understand 
Black love is Black wealth and they'll 
probably talk about my hard childhood 
and never understand that 
all the while I was quite happy



if i can't do 
what i want to do 
then my job is to not 
do what i don't want 
to do

it's not the same thing 
but it's the best i can 

if i can't have 
what i want . . . then 
my job is to want 
what i've got 
and be satisfied 
that at least there 
is something more to want

since i can't go 
where i need 
to go . . . then i must . . . go 
where the signs point 
through always understanding 
parallel movement 
isn't lateral

when i can't express 
what i really feel 
i practice feeling 
what i can express 
and none of it is equal 
i know 
but that's why mankind 
alone among the animals 
learns to cry


Langston Hughes

"Mother to Son"

Well, son, I'll tell you: 
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. 
It's had tacks in it, 
And splinters, 
And boards torn up, 
And places with no carpet on the floor -- 
But all the time 
I'se been a-climbin' on, 
And reachin' landin's, 
And turnin' corners, 
And sometimes goin' in the dark 
Where there ain't been no light. 
So boy, don't you turn back. 
Don't you set down on the steps 
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. 
Don't you fall now -- 
For I'se still goin', honey, 
I'se still climbin', 
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

I've known rivers: 
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the 
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. 
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. 
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. 
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln 
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy 
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers: 
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

"Theme for English B"

The instructor said,

Go home and write 

a page tonight. 
And let that page come out of you--- 
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple? 
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem . 
I went to school there, then Durham, then here 
to this college on the hill above Harlem . 
I am the only colored student in my class. 
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem 
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas, 
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, 
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator 
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me 
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what 
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: 
hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page. 
(I hear New York too.) Me---who? 
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. 
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. 
I like a pipe for a Christmas present, 
or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach. 
I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like 
the same things other folks like who are other races. 
So will my page be colored that I write? 
Being me, it will not be white. 
But it will be 
a part of you, instructor. 
You are white--- 
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. 

That's American. 
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me. 
Nor do I often want to be a part of you. 
But we are, that's true! 
As I learn from you, 
I guess you learn from me--- 
although you're older---and white--- 
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

"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!

Claude McKay

"The Tropics in New York "

Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root, 
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears, 
And tangerines and mangoes 
and grapefruit, 
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,

Set in the window, bringing memories 
Of fruit-trees laden By low-singing rills, 
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies 
In benediction over nun-like hills.

My eyes grew dim and I could 
no more gaze; 
A wave of longing through my body swept, 
And, hungry for the old, familiar ways, 
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.

"If We Must Die"

If we must die, let it not be like hogs 
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, 
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, 
Making their mock at our accursed lot. 
If we must die, O let us nobly die, 
So that our precious blood may not be shed 
In vain; then even the monsters we defy 
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! 
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe! 
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, 
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! 
What though before us lies the open grave? 
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, 
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Robert Hayden

"Those Winter Sundays"

Sundays too my father got up early 
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices? 



Leon Damas


I gulp down seven drinks of water
several times a day
and all in vain
like the criminal to the crime
my childhood returns
in a rousing fit of hiccups

Talk about calamity
talk about disasters
I'll tell you

My mother wanted her son to have good manners at the table:
keep your hands on the table
we don't cut bread
we break it
we don't gobble it down
the bread your father sweats for
our daily bread

eat the bones carefully and neatly
a stomach has to have good manners too
and a well-bred stomach never
a fork is not a toothpick
don't pick your nose
in front of the whole world
and sit up straight
a well-bred nose
doesn't sweep the plate

And then
and then
and then in the name of the Father
and the Son
and the Holy Ghost
at the end of every meal

And then and then
talk about calamity
talk about disasters
I'll tell you

My mother wanted her son to have the very best marks
if you don't know your history
you won't go to mass
in your Sunday suit

This child will disgrace our family name
This child will be our . in the name of God
be quiet
have I or have I not
told you to speak French
the French of France
the French that Frenchmen speak
French French

Talk about calamity
talk about disasters
I'll tell you

My mother wanted her son to be a mama's boy:
you didn't say good evening to our neighbor
what-dirty shoes again
and don't let me catch you anymore
playing on the street or on the grass or in the park
underneath the War Memorial
or picking a fight with what's-his-name
what's-his-name who isn't even baptized

Talk about calamity
talk about disasters
I'll tell you

My mother wanted her son to be
very do
very re
very mi
very fa
very sol
very la
very ti
very do-re-mi

I see you haven't been to your vi-o-lin lesson
a banjo
did you say a banjo
what do you mean
a banjo
no indeed young man
you know there won't be any
in our house
They are not for colored people
Leave them to the black folks!

Short biography of Deon Lamas

Leon Damas left his native French Guiana in South America in order to study in Paris in the early 1930's. Damas first book of poetry, Pigments, announced the literary movement promoting Black identity, culture, and values. Through his writing, he attempted to strengthen Black consciousness and to promote traditional Black values. For many years, Damas represented French Guiana in the French National Assembly. He spent his last years teaching college literature in Washington, D.C. He died in 1978.

Countee Cullen

"Any Human to Another"

The ills I sorrow at
Not me alone
Like an arrow,
Pierce to the marrow,
Through the fat
And past the bone.

Your grief and mine
Must intertwine
Like sea and river,
Be fused and mingle,
Diverse yet single,
Forever and forever.

Let no man be so proud
And confident,
To think he is allowed
A little tent
Pitched in a meadow
Of sun and shadow
All his little own.

Joy may be shy, unique,
Friendly to a few,
Sorrow never scorned to speak
To any who
Were false or true.

Your every grief
like a blade
Shining and unsheathed
Must strike me down.
Of bitter aloes wreathed,
My sorrow must be laid
On your head like a crown.

Alice Walker



They were women then 
My mama's generation 
Husky of voice-Stout of 
With fists as well as 
How they battered down 
And ironed 
Starched white 
How they led 
Headragged Generals 
Across mined 
To discover books 
A place for us 
How they knew what we 
Must Know 
Without knowing a page 
Of it 


Gwendolyn Brooks

"Kitchenette Building"

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan, 
Grayed in, and gray. "Dream" mate, a giddy sound, not strong 
Like "rent", "feeding a wife", "[marrying] a man". 

But could a dream sent up through onion fumes 
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes 
And yesterday's garbage ripening in the hall, 
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms, 

Even if we were willing to let it in, 
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean, 
Anticipate a message, let it begin? 

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute! 
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now, 
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.


James Weldon Johnson

"My City"

When I come down to sleep death's endless night, 
The threshold of the unknown dark to cross, 
What to me then will be the keenest loss, 
When this bright world blurs on my fading sight? 
Will it be that no more I shall see the trees 
Or smell the flowers or hear the singing birds 
Or watch the flashing streams or patient herds? 
No, I am sure it will be none of these.

But, ah! Manhattan's sights and sounds, her smells, 
Her crowds, her throbbing force, the thrill that comes 
From being of her a part, her subtle spells, 
Her shining towers, her avenues, her slums-- 
O God! the stark, unutterable pity, 
To be dead, and never again behold my city!

English Teacher

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Guadalupe Carrasco-Villalpando
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