Friday Fictioneers and an Elegy

Friday Fictioneers LogoAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m no poet but wish I were. I occasionally dabble and embarrass myself and anyone unfortunate enough to read my attempts. I often read a poet’s work (Seamus Heaney, for example) and realize, there, that’s my voice; there’s nothing I can add.

Of course, there are the times where you read a poet for the first time and understand you could never come close so why bother. I had that feeling when I first read Maya Angelou. When I heard her read “Phenomenal Woman,” I knew those were the words forever locked in my head, which she freed and expressed for the benefit of all us phenomenal women. There were times when that poem was a mantra for me, and I would read it over and over and I, too, would rise. Do me a favor and read “Phenomenal Woman” by clicking here.

So, in addition to a facelift for the blog, (The theme is called “Hemingway Rewritten,” by the way.) I’m changing just for today the format of my Friday Fictioneers offering. Instead of a post here and the story under the Friday Fictioneers tab, I’m combining them. In lieu of a 100-word story, I’ve written a 131-word elegy (def. elegy – a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem) in honor of Maya Angelou. I know, totally presumptuous of me, and, frankly, if I were a poet, I’d have managed to write a 100-word poem, but I’m not, so 131 words. Mea culpa. To read other Friday Fictioneers offerings on the photo prompt, click on the icon at the end of my, gulp, poem.

The poem consists of seven stanzas, and I’ve taken the title of nine of her poems which most resonated with me and used them as the first line of five of those stanzas. In the six stanza, the title of three of her poems begin each line, and the final, one-line stanza is the title of the ninth poem. The poems are:

  • “Caged Bird”
  • “On the Pulse of Morning”
  • “Still I Rise”
  • “Phenomenal Woman”
  • “Alone”
  • “To a Man”
  • “When I Think About Myself”
  • “Human Family”
  • “Refusal”

Here is today’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, which evoked for me not just Ms. Angelou’s connection with academia but the concept of passing through a doorway to wherever she is now:

(c)Jennifer Pendergast

(c)Jennifer Pendergast


And here is “Elegy for Maya,” with my humble apology:

When I think about myself
I am amazed at the breadth and depth and scope
Of my life. Every place in the

Human family I have occupied:
Dancer, singer, actress, composer, director, author, and more.
I have honors, awards, but I am

Alone in this latest endeavor
As we all will be when life’s final steps are taken.
No longer will I be the

Caged bird whose words caused
A man to die for his hideous violation of a child.
I became who I am in my

Refusal to allow this rape
To define me. Instead, I grew, I flew, I rose, I rose.
And those who heard my words

To a man declared
Phenomenal woman to take us to places unknown; so
On the pulse of morning

Still I rise.


(c)2014 by Phyllis A. Duncan; reprint with permission only.

23 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers and an Elegy

  1. Dear Maggie,

    Though there are surely a hundred thousand tributes to Ms. Angelou being written this week all across the globe, yours can stand proud with the best of them. Very moving and touching. Hats off to you this week. Maya would have liked it.



  2. A very fitting tribute to a very amazing woman.Please don’t underestimate your poetry, it is something to be very proud of.
    I am sure The Lady would have approved.


  3. This is a fantastic tribute – on so many levels. You include so much in those lines and well done in incorporating her poem titles.

  4. I love your point about poets having already used your voice. I feel like that about all sorts of writing sometimes, but I think those us of who write still have to do so. I enjoyed your poem – in particular the last line and the line about taking those final steps alone.

    • Thanks much. I like the last line, too, but a poet friend of mine (a much published poet) said it was a cliche. I think I’ll stick with my instinct and keep it as is.

  5. I like the formula that you used for your poem. Thank you for explaining it, to make sure that we caught the allusions. When I deliberately read it while not seeking the allusions, the only one that caught my attention was the reference to I Know Why… probably because that poem is so present in my life, and the final line, probably because it is alone. I think that these are great hints for readers who might not read your intro. You succeeded in incorporating the titles smoothly.

I live for your constructive comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.