We love poetry: Mothers by Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti


“mothers are not to be confused with females who only birth babies”


mountains have less height


elephants less weight than

mothers who plan bright futures for their children

against the sewers of western life.


mothers making magical music miles from monster madness

are not news,

are not subject for doctorates.


how shall we celebrate mothers?

how shall we call them in the winter of their lives?

what melody will cure slow bones?

who will bring them worriless late-years?

who will thank them for hidden pains?


mothers are not broken-homes,

they are irreplaceable fire,

a kiss or smile at a critical juncture,

a hug or reprimand when doubts swim in,

a calm glance when the world seems impossible,

the back that America could not break.


mothers making magical music miles from monster madness

are not news,

are not subject for doctorates.


mothers instill questions and common sense,

urge mighty thoughts and lively expectations,

are impetus for discipline and intelligent work while

making childhood exciting, unforgettable and challenging,

mothers are preventative medicine

they are

women who hold their children all night to break fevers,


women who cleaned other folks’ homes in order to give their

children one,

women who listen when others laugh,

women who believe in their children’s dreams,

women who lick the bruises of their children and

give up their food as they suffer hunger pains silently.


if mothers depart their precious spaces too early

values, traditions and bonding interiors are wounded,

morals confused, ethics unknown, needed examples absent


crippling histories of other people’s victories are passed on as



mothers are not broken homes,

they are gifts

sharing full hearts, friendships and mysteries,

as the legs of fathers are amputated

mothers double their giving

having seen the deadly future of white flowers.


mothers making magical music miles from monster madness

are not news,

are not subject for doctorates


who will bring them juice in the sunset of their time?

who will celebrate the wisdom of their lives.

the centrality of their songs,

the quietness of their love,

the greatness of their dance?

it must be us,

able daughters, good

sons their cultural gift,

the fruits and vegetables of their medicine.


we must come like earth rich waterfalls.


For Mittie Travis (1897-1989, Maxine Graves Lee (1924-1959), Inez Hall (1920-2014), and Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti. Reprinted from the book Taught by Women: Poems as Resistance Language New and Selected published by Third World Press.





Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti is an award-winning poet, an architect of the Black Arts Movement, essayist, educator, founder, and publisher (Emeritus) of Third World Press (1967), and Third World Press Foundation. He is the author/editor of over thirty-six books of poetry and nonfiction including Don’t Cry, SCREAM, and his latest book, Taught by Women: Poems As Resistance Language New And Selected.

A long-time community activist and institution builder, Dr. Madhubuti is a co-founder of the Institute of Positive Education and its three schools in Chicago. He retired in 2011 after a forty-two-year distinguished teaching career that included Cornell University, Howard University, and Chicago State University where he was appointed as its first University Distinguished Professor and was the founding Director of its MFA Program in Creative Writing. At DePaul University, he served as the last Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor.