Best Walter Dean Myers Poems

Walter Dean Myers was a writer of children’s books best known for young adult literature. He was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but was raised in Harlem, New York City.

While he is primarily recognized for his novels, he also ventured into poetry and created several poems that reflect his deep understanding of the human experience. Let’s enjoy three of Walter Dean Myers’ notable poems: “Summer,” “Love That Boy,” and “Harlem: A Poem.”

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Famous Walter Dean Myers Poems


I like hot days, hot days
Sweat is what you got days
Bugs buzzin from cousin to cousin
Juices dripping
Running and ripping
Catch the one you love days

Birds peeping
Old men sleeping
Lazy days, daisies lay
Beaming and dreaming
Of hot days, hot days,
Sweat is what you got days.

Walter Dean Myers’ poem “Summer” encapsulates the vibrant atmosphere of the season. It’s a short but beautiful piece that celebrates the simple joys of summer, like the sun’s warmth and the freedom to explore. In this poem, he uses vivid imagery and sensory language to convey the sensations of summer, so you can feel the heat and hear the sounds of the season. Through “Summer,” he invites us to relive the nostalgia and warmth associated with this time of year, making it a captivating ode to the season.

Love That Boy

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
‘Hey there, son!’

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.

“Love That Boy” is a touching poem by Walter Dean Myers that highlights the strong bond between a parent and their child. The poem explores the depth of the profound emotions that come with parenting. It emphasizes the importance of cherishing and nurturing the unique qualities and dreams of each child. Through this poem, Myers captures the universal experience of parental love and the hopes and dreams parents hold for their children. It’s a heartfelt and relatable piece that resonates with readers of all backgrounds.

Harlem: A Poem

They took the road in Waycross, Georgia
Skipped over the tracks in East St. Louis
Took the bus from Holly Springs
Hitched a ride from Gee’s Bend
Took the long way through Memphis
The third deck down from Trinidad
A wrench of heart from Goree Island
A wrench of heart from Goree Island
To a place called

Harlem was a promise
Of a better life,
of a place where a man
Didn’t have to know his place
Simply because
He was Black

They brought a call
A song
First heard in the villages of
Calls and songs and shouts
Heavy hearted tambourine rhythms
Loosed in the hard city
Like a scream torn from the throat
Of an ancient clarinet

A new sound, raucous and sassy
Cascading over the asphalt village
Breaking against the black sky over
1-2-5 Street
Announcing Hallelujah
Riffing past resolution

Yellow, tan, brown, black, red
Green, gray, bright
Colors loud enough to be heard
Light on asphalt streets
Sun yellow shirts on burnt umber
Demanding to be heard
Sending out warriors

From streets known to be
Mourning still as a lone radio tells us how
Jack Johnson
Joe Louis
Sugar Ray
Is doing with our hopes.

We hope
We pray
Our black skins
Reflecting the face of God
In storefront temples

Jive and Jehovah artists
Lay out the human canvas
The mood indigo

A chorus of summer herbs
Of mangoes and bar-b-que
Of perfumed sisters
Hip strutting past
Fried fish joints
On Lenox Avenue in steamy August

A carnival of children
People in the daytime streets
Ring-a-levio warriors
Stickball heroes
Hide-and-seek knights and ladies
Waiting to sing their own sweet songs
Living out their own slam-dunk dreams
For the coming of the blues

A weary blues that Langston knew
And Countee sung
A river of blues
Where Du Bois waded
And Baldwin preached

There is lilt
A language of darkness
Darkness known
Darkness sharpened at Mintons
Darkness lightened at the Cotton Club
Sent flying from Abyssinian Baptist
To the Apollo.

The uptown A
Rattles past 110th Street
Unreal to real
Relaxing the soul

Shango and Jesus
Asante and Mende
One people
A hundred different people
Huddled masses
And crowded dreams

Blocks, bricks
Fat, round woman in a rectangle
Sunday night gospel
“Precious Lord…take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand…”

Caught by a full lipped
Full hipped Saint
Washing collard greens
In a cracked porcelain sink
Backing up Lady Day on the radio

Brother so black and blue
Patting a wide foot outside the
Too hot Walk-up
You ought to find the guys who told you
you could play some checkers
‘cause he done lied to you!”

Cracked reed and soprano sax laughter
Floats over
a fleet of funeral cars

In Harlem
Sparrows sit on fire escapes
Outside rent parties
To learn the tunes.

In Harlem
The wind doesn’t blow past Smalls
It stops to listen to the sounds

Serious business
A poem, rhapsody tripping along
Striver’s Row
Not getting it’s metric feel soiled
On the well-swept walks
Hustling through the hard rain at two o’clock
In the morning to its next gig.

A huddle of horns
And a tinkle of glass
A note
Handed down from Marcus to Malcolm
To a brother
Too bad and too cool to give his name.

Sometimes despair
Makes the stoops shudder
Sometimes there are endless depths of pain
Singing a capella on street corners

And sometimes not.

Sometimes it is the artist
looking into the mirror
Painting a portrait of his own heart.

Me mories of feelings
Of place

A journey on the A train
That started on the banks of the Niger
And has not ended

Walter Dean Myers’ poem “Harlem: A Poem” delves into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of Harlem, New York. In this piece, Myers pays tribute to the iconic neighborhood, which has been a center of African American culture and creativity for generations. The poem provides a vivid snapshot of Harlem’s streets, the rhythms of its music, and the aspirations of its people. It touches on themes of resilience, identity, and the enduring spirit of the community. “Harlem: A Poem” offers readers an insightful glimpse into the heart and soul of this legendary neighborhood, showcasing Myers’ ability to capture the essence of a place with his words.

In these poems, Walter Dean Myers’ unique storytelling skills and keen observations invite readers to connect with the beauty, challenges, and emotions of everyday life, particularly within the context of African American communities. His poems, like his novels, continue to be appreciated for their ability to convey powerful messages and stories that resonate with a broad audience.