Five Politically-Inspired Poems by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was inspired by her identities as a lesbian feminist poet as well as the various cultures that make up the fabric of American life. Her work was influential to the anti-war, civil rights and women’s movement during the later half of the 20th century, and continues to resonate.
Many of these political poems are present in her book, The Black Unicorn, which “explores Lorde’s relationship with womanhood as she provides insight on the interwoven nature of oppression, sexism, African culture, sexual and spiritual awakening, and race…” (from Intersectionality)
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The Black Unicorn
The black unicorn is greedy.
The black unicorn is impatient. 'The black unicorn was mistaken for a shadow or symbol and taken through a cold country where mist painted mockeries of my fury. It is not on her lap where the horn rests but deep in her moonpit growing. The black unicorn is restless the black unicorn is unrelenting the black unicorn is not free.
Who Said It Was Simple
There are so many roots to the tree of anger that sometimes the branches shatter before they bear. Sitting in Nedicks the women rally before they march discussing the problematic girls they hire to make them free. An almost white counterman passes a waiting brother to serve them first and the ladies neither notice nor reject the slighter pleasures of their slavery. But I who am bound by my mirror as well as my bed see causes in color as well as sex and sit here wondering which me will survive all these liberations.
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without still sucks his tumb in secret how come my knees are always so ashy what if I die before the morning comes and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed. I have to learn how to dance in time for the next party my room is too small for me suppose I de before graduation they will sing sad melodies but finally tell the truth about me There is nothing I want to do and too much that has to be done and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed. Nobody even stops to think about my side of it I should have been on Math Team my marks were better than his why do I have to be the one wearing braces I have nothing to wear tomorrow will I live long enough to grow up and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed.
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame how sound comes into a words, coloured by who pays what for speaking. Some words are open like a diamond on glass windows singing out within the crash of sun Then there are words like stapled wagers in a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart— and come whatever will all chances the stub remains an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge. Some words live in my throat breeding like adders. Other know sun seeking like gypsies over my tongue to explode through my lips like young sparrows bursting from shell. Some words bedevil me Love is word, another kind of open. As the diamond comes into a knot of flame I am Black because I come from the earth's inside Now take my word for jewel in the open light.