“Oughta Be A Woman” by June Jordan #PoetryMonth

June Jordan was a Caribbean-American poet and essayist, born to Jamaican immigrants in Harlem in 1936, and raised in Bed-Stuy, New York. She was a highly acclaimed poet and essayist. She was probably the most fierce, bravest, courageous among her generation of poets. Her sense of outrage is unparalleled! She published twenty-seven books of poetry.

Oughta Be A Woman

Washing the floors to send you to college
Staying at home so you can feel safe
What do you think is the soul of her knowledge
What do you think makes her feel safe

Biting her lips and lowering her eyes
To make sure there’s food on the table
What do you think would be her surprise
If the world was as willing as she’s able.

Hugging herself in an old kitchen chair
She listens to your hurt and your rage
What do you think she knows of despair
What is the aching of age

The fathers, the children, the brothers
Turn to her and everybody white turns to her
What about turning around
Alone in the everyday light

There oughta be a woman can break
Down, sit down, break down, sit down
Like everybody else call it quits on Mondays
Blues on Tuesday, sleep until Sunday
Down, sit down, break down, sit down

A way outa no way is flesh outa flesh
Courage that cries out at night
A way outa no way is flesh outa flesh
Bravery kept outa sight
A way outa no way is too much to ask
Too much of a task for any one woman
—— by June Jordan