7+ Best Ntozake Shange Poems

Ntozake Shange was an American playwright and poet. As a Black feminist, she addressed issues relating to race and Black power in much of her work. She is best known for her Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of greatest Aphra Behn poems, powerful Herman Melville poems and most known Jean Toomer poems.

Famous Ntozake Shange Poems

With No Immediate Cause

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a
woman is raped/every ten minutes
a lil girl is molested
yet i rode the subway today
i sat next to an old man who
may have beaten his old wife
3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago
he might have sodomized his
daughter but i sat there
cuz the young men on the train
might beat some young women
later in the day or tomorrow
i might not shut my door fast
every 3 minutes it happens
some woman’s innocence
rushes to her cheeks/pours from her mouth
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn
apart/their mouths
menses red & split/every
three minutes a shoulder
is jammed through plaster and the oven door/
chairs push thru the rib cage/hot water or
boiling sperm decorate her body
i rode the subway today
& bought a paper from a
man who might
have held his old lady onto
a hot pressing iron/i don’t know
maybe he catches lil girls in the
park & rips open their behinds
with steel rods/i can’t decide
what he might have done i only
know every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so
i bought the paper
looking for the announcement
the discovery/of the dismembered
woman’s body/the
victims have not all been
identified/today they are
naked and dead/refuse to
testify/one girl out of 10’s not
coherent/i took the coffee
& spit it up/i found an
announcement/not the woman’s
bloated body in the river/floating
not the child bleeding in the
59th street corridor/not the baby
broken on the floor/
there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder their
husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause’

i spit up i vomit i am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day
women’s bodies are found
in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs
before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink
coffee/i must know/
have you hurt a woman today
did you beat a woman today
throw a child across a room
are the lil girl’s panties
in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today
i have to ask these obscene questions
the authorities require me to
establish
immediate cause
every three minutes
every five minutes
every ten minutes
every day.

Enuf

at 4:30 AM
she rose
movin the arms & legs that trapped her
she sighed affirmin the sculptured man
& made herself a bath
of dark musk oil egyptian crystals
& florida water to remove his smell
to wash away the glitter
to watch the butterflies melt into
suds & the rhinestones fall beneath
her buttocks like smooth pebbles
in a missouri creek
layin in water
she became herself
ordinary
brown braided woman
with big legs & full hips
reglar
seriously intendin to finish her
night’s work
she quickly walked to her guest
straddled on her pillows & began
æyou’ll have to go now /
i’ve
a lot of work to do / & i
cant
with a man around / here
are yr pants /
there’s coffee on the
stove / it’s been
very nice / but i cant see
you again /
you got what you came
for / didnt you’
& she smiled
he wd either mumble curses bout crazy bitches
or sit dumbfounded
while she repeated
æi cdnt possibly wake up / with
a strange man in my bed / why
dont you go home’
she cda been slapped upside the head
or verbally challenged
but she never waz
& the ones who fell prey to the
dazzle of hips painted with
orange blossoms & magnolia scented wrists
had wanted no more
than to lay between her sparklin thighs
& had planned on leaving before dawn
& she had been so divine
devastatingly bizarre the way
her mouth fit round
& now she stood a
reglar colored girl
fulla the same malice
livid indifference as a sistah
worn from supportin a wd be hornplayer
or waiting by the window
& they knew
& left in a hurry
she wd gather her tinsel &
jewels from the tub
& laugh gayly or vengeful
she stored her silk roses by her bed
& when she finished writin
the account of her exploit in a diary
embroidered with lilies & moonstones
she placed the rose behind her ear
& cried herself to sleep.

Blood Rhythms – Blood Currents

(French sugar-beet farmers, overwhelmed by mulatto competitors, plastered Europe’s cities with advertisements proclaiming: ‘Our sugar is not soiled with black blood.’ A popular Afro-Cuban saying is: ‘Sugar is made with blood,’ while in the South of the United States, cane growers processed natural sugar ‘to get the nigger out.’)

Fragrant breezes in the South
melt to melodies round small fires
mount tree limbs
with bodies black
and swayin’ black n croonin’
songs of sunsets
comin’ from the fields bawdy
brazen
hard to put yr finger on
like the blues
like the strum of guitars on dark damp

southern nights
hard to put your finger on
like screams in the black bloody southern soil
sweet black blood echoin’ thru the evenin’ service
grindin’ by the roadhouse door
sweet black blood
movin’ with slow breath

outta breath
young negroes run to pick up a bale of cotton
run to flee southern knights
crosses bare blazin’ signals black bloods
gone runnin’
for Chicago
for the hollow
for the C.C. Rider
for the new day sweet
blocked melodies ache in young girls’ throats
rip thru their lips like the road to freedom was lit
all lit up with the grace of God and
Sears Tower
the Ford plane and Pontiac’s vision
all lit up sleek fires
sheddin’ the haunts of poll taxes and test questions like
where is America
cost a finger
a ear
a heart
a teardrop fallin’ from the saggin’ front porch
to the project stairway
from the water fountain to the chain gang

the night train carried smuggled goods news
of struttin’ signifyin’ fellas with gold teeth
neath they feet and brawny sway for blocks and blocks
far as the eye cd see from Biloxi to Birmingham
the contraband of freedom seeped thru the swamps
the air hung heavy
with the cries of ‘ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round’
and young boys in nice-cut suits
who was awready standin’ with they heads up
awready prancin’ with finesse and grand stature
like men wit eyes
don’t never look down
men wit eyes burstin’ wit glory
from the red sedans
and the seats in schools
to the right to set wherever they want
and when the sounds of the harmonica was slowed
by snarlin’ dogs and hoses
when the washboards and bottleneck players
was skedattlin’ out the bullets way
up came a roarin’
force a light blue controlled fire in un-mussed lame´
pleated silk and faces
bearin’ no scars
to say ‘we ain’t been touched’
we the sweet black fires of dreams
& of unobfuscated beauty

like the trails of freedom
the Good Lord himself lit up
we gonna take this
new city neon light
sound
volumes for milliom to hear
to love themselves
enough to turn back the pulse of a whippin’ history
make it carry the modern black melody from L.A.
to downtown Newark City
freedom buses
freedom riders
freedom is the way we walk that walk
talk that talk
gotta take that charred black body out the ground
switch on the current to a new sound
to a new way of walkin’ a new way of talkin’
blues

electrified
blues
b oltin-the-lynchin-tree
n-tremblin-n-chirren-blues
defyin the sound of gravity

for a people singin’
about the sashay of blood rhythms set free.

My Father Is A Retired Magician

(for ifa, p.t., & bisa)

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white
on the spot

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot just
from a clap of my daddy’s hands

& the reason i’m so peculiar’s
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy’s technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it’s very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies
on our side
i’ll listen to yr problems
help wit yr career yr lover yr wanderin spouse
make yr grandma’s stay in heaven more gratifyin
ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
how to clean his room

YES YES YES 3 wishes is all you get
scarlet ribbons for yr hair
benwa balls via hong kong
a miniature of machu picchu

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you white
i mean
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/
Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People

You Are Sucha Fool

you are sucha fool/ i haveta love you
you decide to give me a poem/ intent on it/ actually
you pull/ kiss me from 125th to 72nd street/ on
the east side/ no less
you are sucha fool/ you gonna give me/ the poet/
the poem
insistin on proletarian images/ we buy okra/
3 lbs for $1/ & a pair of 98 cent shoes
we kiss
we wrestle
you make sure at east 110 street/ we have cognac
no beer all day
you are sucha fool/ you fall over my day like
a wash of azure

you take my tongue outta my mouth/
make me say foolish things
you take my tongue outta my mouth/ lay it on yr skin
like the dew between my legs
on this the first day of silver balloons
& lil girl’s braids undone
friendly savage skulls on bikes/ wish me good-day
you speak spanish like a german & ask puerto rican
market men on lexington if they are foreigners

oh you are sucha fool/ i cant help but love you
maybe it was something in the air
our memories
our first walk
our first…
yes/ alla that

where you poured wine down my throat in rooms
poets i dreamed abt seduced sound & made history/
you make me feel like a cheetah
a gazelle/ something fast & beautiful
you make me remember my animal sounds/
so while i am an antelope
ocelot & serpent speaking in tongues
my body loosens for/ you

you decide to give me the poem
you wet yr fingers/ lay it to my lips
that i might write some more abt you/
how you come into me
the way the blues jumps outta b.b.king/ how
david murray assaults a moon & takes her home/
like dyanne harvey invades the wind

oh you/ you are sucha fool/
you want me to write some more abt you
how you come into me like a rollercoaster in a
dip that swings
leaving me shattered/ glistening/ rich/ screeching
& fully clothed

you set me up to fall into yr dreams
like the sub-saharan animal i am/ in all this heat
wanting to be still
to be still with you
in the shadows
all those buildings
all those people/ celebrating/ sunlight & love/ you

you are sucha fool/ you spend all day piling up images
locations/ morsels of daydreams/ to give me a poem

just smile/ i’ll get it

People Of Watts

where we come from, sometimes, beauty
floats around us like clouds
the way leaves rustle in the breeze
and cornbread and barbecue swing out the backdoor
and tease all our senses as the sun goes down.

dreams and memories rest by fences
Texas accents rev up like our engines
customized sparkling powerful as the arms
that hold us tightly black n fragrant
reminding us that once we slept and loved
to the scents of magnolia and frangipani
once when we looked toward the skies
we could see something as lovely as our children’s
smiles white n glistenin’ clear of fear or shame
young girls in braids as precious as gold
find out that sex is not just bein’ touched
but in the swing of their hips the light fallin cross
a softbrown cheek or the movement of a mere finger
to a lip many lips inviting kisses southern
and hip as any one lanky brother in the heat
of a laid back sunday rich as a big mama still
in love with the idea of love how we play at lovin’
even riskin’ all common sense cause we are as fantastical
as any chimera or magical flowers where breasts entice
and disguise the racing pounding of our hearts
as the music that we are
hard core blues low bass voices crooning
straight outta Compton melodies so pretty
they nasty cruising the Harbor Freeway
blowin’ kisses to strangers who won’t be for long
singing ourselves to ourselves Mamie Khalid Sharita
Bessie Jock Tookie MaiMai Cosmic Man Mr. Man
Keemah and all the rest seriously courtin’
rappin’ a English we make up as we go along
turnin’ nouns into verbs braids into crowns
and always fetchin’ dreams from a horizon
strewn with bones and flesh of those of us
who didn’t make it whose smiles and deep
dark eyes help us to continue to see
there’s so much life here.

‘Sorry’

one thing i don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they dont open doors
or bring the sun back
they dont make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didnt nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry

i am simply tired
of collectin
i didnt know
i was so important toyou
i’m gonna haveta throw some away
i cant get to the clothes in my closet
for alla the sorries
i’m gonna tack a sign to my door
leave a message by the phone
‘if you called
to say yr sorry
call somebody
else
i dont use em anymore’
i let sorry/ didnt meanta/ & how cd i know abt that
take a walk down a dark & musty street in brooklyn
i’m gonna do exactly what i want to
& i wont be sorry for none of it
letta sorry soothe yr soul/ i’m gonna soothe mine

you were always inconsistent
doin somethin & then bein sorry
beatin my heart to death
talkin bout you sorry
well
i will not call
i’m not goin to be nice
i will raise my voice
& scream & holler
& break things & race the engine
& tell all yr secrets bout yrself to yr face
& i will list in detail everyone of my wonderful lovers
& their ways
i will play oliver lake
loud
& i wont be sorry for none of it

i loved you on purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i’m not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
next time
you should admit
you’re mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry alla the time
enjoy bein yrself

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