Oil wells pumping in our living room

This blog is dedicated to my family, all of them: to Justin, to Roo, to my cousins Heather, Michelle, the three little bears, my two Disney fanatics, my amazing second mom and dad, the two Js and No-na; to Taeh, Becca, Miss O, Tina, Jace, the scootergirl, Arthur's godfathers and godmothers and honorary aunts and uncles; to my own many aunts and uncles, by blood and by not blood; my ginger brothers and the cousin with the sax, his lovely wife-to-be, my earth-worshipping sister and her family, and all the other people who help to make our lives so incredible.  

Today I am sharing (most of) one of my favorite poems (it's very long).  I teach it to my students most semesters; it is a poem of love, love of self.  Justin and I once had the pleasure to see Dr. Angelou speak; her words were lyrical, soulful, music that clung to the air around us and left its mist on our spirits.  She is one of the most beautiful women ever to walk the earth.  She connects herself to all other women with her words and with the ample love she gives.  She is a woman of grace and courage; she came from an absolute crap background; she conquered her doubters; she made mistakes and embraced them as evolution.

Still I Rise by Dr. Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
I rise
I rise

And this is my mantra todayand I am so proud each day to be part of this family.

We are a family committed to love and pacifism, even when it's hard. 

We are a family who evolves.  We are imperfect and we are absolutely at peace with that. 

We are the very essence of contradiction and we love it.  

We are a family who deeply love one another, and that love radiates from the center, from the passion Justin and I have for each other.

We are a family with oil wells pumping in our living room.



Amanda said...

What a beautiful poem -- thank you for sharing. Still, I find it quite sad that there's something happening in your life that necessitates its posting. I hope things turn around and soon...·

Mrs. Owen of Yorktown said...

Thank you, Amanda. You are so sweet.

SnowQueen said...


Melanie said...

That is a fabulous poem! I had the pleasure of including Ms. Angelou in my thesis, and she made it easier to stay interested. I also was honored to see her speak at TU on that lovely St. Patrick's Day evening a few years ago, and I agree with your lovely description of how the room around her felt. It was truly like sharing space with a sacred one.

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