One more in honor of World Poetry Day for writer/womanist/activist Alice Walker, who when I interviewed her years ago for a story about “The Color Purple” becoming a play, refused to let me leave her sight without handing me lavender that I saved until it crumbled into dust and the most lovely collard greens I’d ever seen from her garden. “Revolutionary Petunias” was published first in 1971. I discovered it when I most needed it.

Be Nobody’s Darling (for Julius Lester)

Be nobody’s darling;

Be an outcast.

Take the contradictions

Of your life

And wrap around

You like a shawl,

To parry stones

To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb

To madness

With ample cheer;

Let them look askance at you

And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;

Be pleased to walk alone


Or line the crowded

River beds

With other impetuous


Make a merry gathering

On the bank

Where thousands perished

For brave hurt words

They said.

Be nobody’s darling;

Be an outcast.

Qualified to live

Among your dead.