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Lucille Clifton quotes (showing 1-30 of 35)

“You might as well answer the door, my child,
the truth is furiously knocking.”
Lucille Clifton, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980
“may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back”
Lucille Clifton
“the lesson of the falling leaves

the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves”
Lucille Clifton
“I am running into a new year and the old years blow back like a wind that I catch in my hair like strong fingers like all my old promises and it will be hard to let go of what I said to myself about myself when I was sixteen and twenty-six and thirty-six but I am running into a new year and I beg what i love and I leave to forgive me.”
Lucille Clifton
“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.”
Lucille Clifton
you a wonder.
you a city of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.

somebody need a map
to understand you.
somebody need directions
to move around you.

you not a noplace
mister with his hands on you

he got his hands on
Lucille Clifton
“don’t write out of what I know; I write out of what I wonder. I think most artists create art in order to explore, not to give the answers. Poetry and art are not about answers to me; they are about questions.”
Lucille Clifton
“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”
Lucille Clifton
“wishes for sons
by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

Lucille Clifton
“they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and I keep on remembering mine”
Lucille Clifton
“the lost women

I need to know their names
those women I would have walked with,
jauntily the way men go in groups
swinging their arms, and the ones
those sweating women whom I would have joined
After a hard game to chew the fat
what would we have called each other laughing
joking into our beer? where are my gangs,
my teams, my mislaid sisters?
all the women who could have known me,
where in the world are their names?

Lucille Clifton
“I do not feel inhibited or bound by what I am. That does not mean that I have never had bad scenes relating to being Black and/or a woman, it means that other people’s craziness has not managed to make me crazy.”
Lucille Clifton
“What they call you is one thing. What you answer to is something else.”
Lucille Clifton
“blessing the boats
(at saint mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that”
Lucille Clifton
“We cannot create what we can't imagine.”
Lucille Clifton
“People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that's a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.”
Lucille Clifton
“I come to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”
Lucille Clifton
“oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.

I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.

I can barely recall her song
the scent of her hands
though her wild hair scratches my dreams
at night. return to me, oh Lord of then
and now, my mother’s calling,
her young voice humming my name.”
Lucille Clifton, Mercy
“Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed.”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“they will empty your eyes of everything you love”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“who among us can imagine ourselves unimagined? who among us can speak with so fragile tongue and remain proud?”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“I am a black woman poet and I sound like one.”
Lucille Clifton
“so many languages have fallen off the edge of the world”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“dreaming your x-ray vision could see the beauty in me.”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“You are the one
I am lit for.

Come with your rod
that twists
and is a serpent.

I am the bush.
I am burning
I am not consumed.”
Lucille Clifton
tags: poetry
“her dangling braids the color of rain.”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“shapeshifter poems by Lucille Clifton

the legend is whispered
in the women's tent
how the moon when she rises
follows some men into themselves
and changes them there
the season is short
but dreadful shapeshifters
they wear strange hands
they walk through the houses
at night their daughters
do not know them


who is there to protect her
from the hands of the father
not the windows which see and
say nothing not the moon
that awful eye not the woman
she will become with her
scarred tongue who who who the owl
laments into the evening who
will protect her this prettylittlegirl


if the little girl lies
still enough
shut enough
hard enough
shapeshifter may not
walk tonight
the full moon may not
find him here
the hair on him


the poem at the end of the world
is the poem the little girl breathes
into her pillow the one
she cannot tell the one
there is no one to hear this poem
is a political poem is a war poem is a
universal poem but is not about
these things this poem
is about one human heart this poem
is the poem at the end of the world

Credit: Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.”
Lucille Clifton
“i am rejuvenated bones rising from the dear floor where they found you”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“a tongue blistered with smiling”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light
“they are shrouding words so that families cannot find them.”
Lucille Clifton, The Book of Light

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