There is incredible beauty in the universal language of poetry. In ancient times, poets were considered prophets of the land. Eminent poet, scholar, and activist Sonia Sanchez once said that poets have their pulse on the world, and this profound statement rings true, especially today. Poetry can teach and contextualize events in an emotional way.

Inspired by the success of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, the Academy of American Poets declared April as National Poetry Month. It is a literary event celebrated globally by millions from all walks of life.

Poets have a distinctive way of speaking soul-to-soul. Poetry can help heal a broken heart and even offer courage and inspiration to many. A poet’s words can run the gamut and paint pictures with profound words that shed light on possibilities never before explored.

Poetry can be stirring; it can expound on untold truths and help you view life from a deeper perspective. Protest poems can stimulate a reader’s interest and empathy, and sometimes spur him or her into action. Many of our poets with their gift of words have tried to raise the moral standards of living in this country through protest poetry. Through lived experiences, they have shared their pain, anger, and grief about racism. Poet and activist Audre Lorde once said, “Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.”

Poets possess the power to awaken those who have been lulled to sleep, especially during these challenging times. When thinking of the purpose of poets and their significance, the words of Maya Angelou also come to mind: “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”

Poets certainly do have the ability to touch the innermost part of self.

50BOLD.com has always provided a platform where talented poets can showcase their work. Here we celebrate National Poetry Month by re-publishing some of our favorite poems that have graced our pages since we launched three years ago.


But Some of Us Stayed

by Nikki Giovanni

we forget the strength

of those who stayed


we sometimes don’t recognize

what it took

to decide to build

a church

a school

a store to sell the yams

we picked from the ground

the tomatoes we carefully watched turn red

on the vines

to seek the okra pods

as well as to pick

our own cotton

we took pride

in our work

and lovingly encouraged

our daughters to dream

we sent them

our daughters

to school then

to college

and they stayed to help others

100 years is not

so long

when we plant

love with patience

when we find that song

that gives us strength

to go on


Morning Song and Evening Walk

by Sonia Sanchez

Tonite in need of you

and God

I move imperfect

through this ancient city.

Quiet. No one hears

No one feels the tears

of multitudes.

The silence thickens

I have lost the shore

of your kind seasons

who will hear my voice

nasal against distinguished


O I am tired

of voices without sound

I will rest on this ground

full of mass hymns.


Why She Loves Him

By Haki Madhubuti

she seldom would admit to him the reasons she was

attracted his way (not necessarily in this order):

looks, hair, tone of voice, content of his conversation, body

scent, his infectious smile,

manners, kindness & ideas. the drape of his clothes,

the quietness of his intentions & interior, care for

others, the questions he asked,

his understanding of multiple realities, his culture &

politics, his insistence upon paying for dinner,

movies & music while dating.

he is unpredictable, well-traveled with a large

mind & is unpretentious. the way he smiles

at children & gravitates toward them,

his advocacy of extended family, love of exercise,

walking, love of land.

he doesn’t smoke, drink, do drugs or sleep around,

does not think it right, necessary or safe to have sex

on the first, second, third or fourth dates,

he feels that birth control is his responsibility too, clean, loves

to visit bookstores, libraries, farms,

museums and art galleries, read books,

quarterlies and magazines that have more text than

pictures. adores visual art, music, movies, and theater.

respectful of women’s dreams and vision.

he doesn’t eat meat, fish, chicken or dairy products.

productive and economically independent,

not jealous, mentally and physically sound,

an intense caring lover and yoga practitioner. the

spiritualness of his utterances and

his presence quiets her.

the way he communicates without words is precious, and

she knows the exact location of his heart.


You Will Recognize Your Brothers

by Haki Madhubuti

You will recognize your brothers

by the way they act and move throughout the world.

there will be a strange force about them,

there will be unspoken answers in them.

this will be obvious not only to you but to many.

the confidence they have in themselves and in

their people will be evident in their quiet saneness.

the way they relate to women will be

clean, complimentary, responsible,

with honesty and as partners.

the way they relate to children will be

strong and soft full of positive direction and as example.

the way they relate to men

will be that of questioning our position in this world,

will be one of planning for movement and change,

will be one of working for their people,

will be one of gaining and maintaining trust within the culture.

these men at first will seem strange and unusual but

this will not be the case for long.

they will train others and the discipline they display

will be a way of life for many.

they know that this is difficult

but this is the life that they have chosen

for themselves, for us, for life:

they will be the examples,

they will be the answers, they will be the first line builders,

they will be the creators,

they will be the first to give up the weakening pleasures,

they will be the first to share love, resources, and vision,

they will be the workers,

they will be the scholars,

they will be the providers,

they will be the historians,

they will be the doctors, lawyers, farmers, priests

and all that is needed for development and growth.

you will recognize these brothers


they will not betray you.



by Bill Holmes

I whisper

the words of African proverbs

for the courage

to emerge from

the shadows of

No Man’s Land

rising above the residue

of innocent blood slaughtered

where privilege meets supremacy

and depression and oppression

interlace in twisted realities

becoming the norm

where Secret Empires leap

beyond comic book pages

under the rebirth of a nation

where all that’s new

is old… familiar…

or great again.

I ask Spirit

to grant me the endurance

to heal, love,

imagine, plan,

do, create,


because I, too,

like Langston,

am America’s dreams

no longer deferred

where breathing,

living, and thriving

are not crimes

against humanity

and existence is fertile


my life matters


I will


be denied.


Catch a Bullet

by Tanya C. Tyler

If I could catch a bullet between my teeth

I would send it back to the

place from which it originated

where people believe we came to

wreck rather than rectify

grab rather than grace

We are a kidnapped nation, abused

robbed, raped, tossed aside, then

forgotten, that is until we remind

we are still here, not as ghosts of

those you will not see but

flesh in the sun, moon, night and day of life

over death…we are still here

If I could I would catch a bullet

between my teeth

for every person who believed we were

burdens on a system that vilified

other nations for its own gain

for everyone who believes we should

go back to where we came from in order

to shut their eyes and ignore, deny, decry and

disappear the shame of their crimes against Black

humanity birthed here…

If I could catch a bullet between my teeth

I would use it to graze the hearts of all the

hardened and practiced racists who have

taught their generations to continue sowing

seeds of hatred, brutalization and murder

against a nation that built this nation in blood

I would use it to eliminate the ease by which

they can offend and defend words, actions and

preconceived notions that accelerate the death

tolls for those of higher melanin count.

If I could catch a bullet between my teeth

for every man, woman, or child who suffered

for a happenstance of birth, who learned to

cower in the day and night, crouch for their

very lives face down in the shame of self-hatred

ashamed they are so Black and blue

I would shoot arrogance and superiority of birth

between its rocky legs to castrate the

beast in all its glory

If I could catch a bullet between my teeth

I would use its power to honor my ancestors and

tell them that their sacrifices were not an abject


that their spirits still toil from the mantle of hope

that their memories still inflame and

drive the thought of freedom

yet to be attained in a land that is stubborn and

proud of its misdeeds

but, will soon topple as the proverbial baton

has been passed to the

strong and determined young hands breathing

and striving to live the dream

If only I could catch a bullet…


Let that Black Man Walk

by Victoria Huggins Peurifoy

The Black man’s stance will make you salute.

His stroll will make you stop to look.

His shoulders have a slow methodic rhythm

that allows his waist to stay in control.

His rear flank marches to an unheard cadence,

an unheard cadence that gives him soul.

His head is straight forward, but if he looks

you in the eye…look away, quickly look away.

Let that Black man walk

He lifts his rib cage and his diaphragm takes in

oxygen to let you know he’s getting ready to blow you

away; as that six pack expands out and in, and

in and out. It makes you want to scream and shout.

Put a suit and tie or a dashiki on that man’s body and…

Let that Black man walk.

With a stride filled with confidence, self-assurance, pride,

and a knowing, that his intelligence is getting ready to be

exhibited as soon as he opens his mouth.

As I walked with the tall, strong, muscular, astute Black brother,

I watched others reaction to him. Men were giving him a silent pound

and women wished he was with them and I just smiled.

Let that Black man walk.

The looks all have a special meaning whether it is a walk

towards you to whisk you away; or the look that says

nothing can get in my way. For I am strong, and today

is the day I show my power as I walk through the gates.

Let that Black man walk.

During slavery times, when hangings were common,

legs were dismembered to ensure that a Black man could

not step out of his grave. Fear of the Black man’s walk is

so unfounded, but it is certainly something to see.

The next time the opportunity prevails,

take time to look at that Black man walk.

Let that Black man walk.


Can You Hear Me Now

by Khephra Burns

Can you hear me now,

now that my tongue’s inflamed

and the tongues of flames

that rage across the city’s precincts

are setting off alarms, again,

as the din crescendos across a nation

tone deaf to chants

and last-gasp desperation?

Can you hear me now?

Are you listening now?

Are your ears burning

like eyes are burning

with tears and tear gas?

Burn, baby, burn.

I remember Watts.

I was there. I watched

the occupying all-white force

make its stand at the strip mall

on Rosecrans and Central,

my father’s 38 on the seat between us,

resolute as we rolled past the palisades.

A Tuskegee Airman and hero now

but just another black father then,

remembering the young black man

he was when deputized white men

dragged from a bar

and beat a black man to death

in the street

in plain sight

in the dark night of broad daylight

that was welcome-home-nigger


Keep your hollow thanks

for his service.

Black men in uniform were lynched

for their service

while America looked the other way.

Go wave the colors elsewhere,

where the view’s unobstructed

by red summers, white rage

and brown shirts in blue uniform.

My father’s victory’s not your victory.

His survival won’t buy your absolution.

The blood-soaked shroud

his uniform could have been,

surely would have been

but for the broad porch column

that concealed him.

He never told his mother.

I never did tell mine

how police and plain-clothes detectives

drew weapons

and threatened to kill me

in the alley behind

white America.

Running from what?

the detective demanded.

If truth be told,

from 400 years of slave patrols.

That’s not what I said.

What I said was, “Nothing.”

But enough is enough

and I can’t say nothing.

So, no, I won’t condemn the violence,

the tragedy of your shattered glass

and smoke-smudged precious brick

and mortar.

Call it burnt offerings

to unanswered prayers.

I’m calling down hell,

fire and damnation.

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Long as my tongue’s tied up in my shoe,

Long as I sing righteous hymns and walk softly,

Long as I’m just praying for justice

to one day roll down like waters,

you look, you yawn and look away,

back to the current day’s trading.

So, no. Fire this time!

Can you hear me now?

Fire this time!

because you value property

more than life,

because you swear your agents

to protect and serve property,

because they’re still patrolling

for runaway property.

But I’m not your property.

And you don’t get to dictate

how I fight for my life.

Look to your soul,

my soles are worn through.

It’s now up to you.

Is the fire this time purgatory

or just eternal damnation?



by Louise Eagle

I promise to live my life with passion

each and every day

And treat those with compassion

that I meet along the way

I’ll soar to heights I never thought

that I would ever reach

And every day, in every way

I’ll practice what I preach

I’ll work as hard as I can stand

but I’ll take some time for me

I’ll smell each rose and watch each sunset

each sunrise that I see

I’ll feel the rain, I’ll face the sun

I’ll open up my heart

I’ll finish every project and each program

that I start

And when the day is over

and twilight comes to stay

I’ll have lived my life with passion

every step of the way!


I Came Here to Fly

by Joyce G. Snyder

Do you think I want to bargain with you over this?

Do you think we can work out a trade?

I give you my Soul; you give me your approval —

do you think it works like that?

I didn’t come here to play your game

or march to your tune.

I came here to fly.

I was here before – crawling.

I walked, I stumbled, I fell.

I was here before, playing in your band;

it was music made in hell.

I came here this time and promised myself

I’d do it or I’d die.

I came with my own song because

this time I came to fly.

Before, in other lifetimes

my heart was like a stone.

Anchored by the weight

it kept me earth-bound, far from home.

Before, I wandered aimlessly

not knowing right from wrong.

Enchanted by false gifts, I sold

my treasures for a song.

But this time things are different,

and I can tell you why.

It’s all in how you see yourself,

and I came here to fly.