Goodbye Does Not Mean Gone; Thank You Dr. Maya Angelou

Today Maya Angelou transcended from this plane to the next and my heart is saddened to hear that she has left us. Although she will no longer fight battles for equality, or pick up a pen to write her ideas into a profound piece of art, she will forever live on for she has bequeathed to us her labor of love, her body of work. Upon hearing the news this morning that she had passed away at the age of 86, my first instinct was to make a simple request of my fellow Wenches and see if there was some way that we could honor this Phenomenal Woman. Seeing we are a book review blog and her work has been a profound influence in my life as well as the world I just wanted to pay my respects to her and her memory. The request was embraced wholeheartedly, albeit with sadness in our hearts, so if you would please follow through the jump we would like to dedicate this post to her memory.


I once read a quote somewhere that said: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” Today at the age of 86, Dr. Maya Angelou drew her last breath and through her vast literary contributions she now gains immortality ensuring that she will not be forgotten. I knew while I was at work today that once I got home I would write up this tribute. Now that I am home I have been working on this piece, writing then erasing and then writing again, I find that I am struggling because I’m at a loss for words. How does one honor someone who was so swift with a pen and a master linguist? How does one honor someone that so profoundly changed your life in your teen years, as Dr. Angelou did for me? She could out write me in seven different languages and it was with that thought in mind that I had a stroke of inspiration: “Dr. Angelou was a simple woman and so I’ll honor her simply and let her work speak for itself. “ I then grabbed my books by Dr. Angelou that were given to me by my father and selected a few of her poems to share with our readers. With her passing, most news and social media outlets are praising her life (as they should) and giving readers the details and facts of her 86 years. I want to give you, our readers, some of the basics of her art. I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you Dr. Angelou. It is because of you that I (and many others) know my worth in being a Phenomenal Woman.


Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they warm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s now bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Where We Belong, A Duet

In every town and village,
In every city square,
In crowded places
I searched the faces
Hoping to find
Someone to care.

I read mysterious meanings
In the distant stars,
Then I went to schoolrooms
And poolrooms
And half-lighted cocktail bars.
Braving dangers,
Going with strangers,
I don’t even remember their names.
I was quick and breezy
And always easy
Playing romantic games.

I wined and dined a thousand exotic Joans and Janes
In dusty dance halls, at debutante balls,
On lonely country lanes.
I feel in love forever,
Twice every year or so.
I wooed them sweetly, was theirs completely,
But they always let me go.
Saying bye now, no need to try now,
You don’t have the proper charms.
Too sentimental and much too gentle
I don’t tremble in your arms.

Then you rose into my life
Like a promised sunrise.
Brightening my days with the light in your eyes.
I’ve never been so strong,
Now I’m where I belong.

One More Round

There ain’t no pay beneath the sun
As sweet as rest when a job’s well done.
I was born to work up to my grave
But I was not born
To be a slave.
One more round
And let’s heave it down
One more round
And lets heave it down.

Papa drove steel and Momma stood guard,
I never heard them holler ‘cause the work was hard.
They were born to work up to their graves
But they were not born
To be worked-out slaves.

One more round
And let’s heave it down.
One more round
And let’s heave it down.

Brothers and sisters know they daily grind,
It was not labor made them lose their minds.
They were born to work up to their graves
But they were not born
To be worked-out slaves.

One more round
And let’s heave it down,
One more round
And let’s heave it down.

And now I’ll tell you my Golden Rule,
I was born to work but I ain’t no mule.
I was born to work up to my grave
But I was not born
To be a slave.

One more round
And let’s heave it down,
One more round
And let’s heave it down.

On Aging
Photographer G. Paul BishopJunior.

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop!Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!

When my bones are stiff and aching
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.

When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

Still I Rise

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,
Weaked 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?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

To round off my piece in honor of Dr. Angelou’s memory, I am sharing with our readers the poem she created and read for the 1993 Inauguration of US President Bill Clinton. Though she was a published author and activist by this time in her life, it was this poem that allowed her work to reach into other’s awareness. Her wonderful words and soul took flight that day to be heard around the world and brought her work to new nations and generations.

After the poem please feel free in comments section to share with us your favorite piece of her work or a memory you have of her. Rest in Power Dr. Angelou, for you were loved more than words.

On the Pulse of Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

You armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come.

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearing to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache, and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, let me for the employment of
Other seekers - desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, brought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River.
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree am yours – your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

You will be missed.



You Might Want to Read...

A Tribute to The Fiery Cross

When The Music's Over

Dani Mega O'Malley: Superstar

So Many Questions: The Fever Edition

Black Dagger Brotherhood: Scenes That Left us Begging for More