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02/21/2010

Poet Lucille Clifton's sly humor

February 21, 2010 | 10:15 am

Lucille Clifton, the widely anthologized poet who died Feb. 13 at age 73, was descended from slaves and wrote many poems that addressed indignities and injustices in African Americans' lives. But the mother of six also was noted for her humor, which she directed at subjects not usually considered inspirational, including hot flashes and menstruation.

Lucille

Her earthy wit powers her "wishes for sons":

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.

Read the news obituary here and more of Clifton's work here.

-- Elaine Woo

Photo: Lucille Clifton in 2000. Credit: Associated Press

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