Wanda Coleman


Born on November 13, 1946, Wanda Coleman grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. During her lifetime she worked as a medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist, and Emmy Award-winning scriptwriter before turning to poetry. Her poetry collections include Mercurochrome: New Poems (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry; Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), which received the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996); Hand Dance (1993); African Sleeping Sickness (1990); Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986 (1988); and Imagoes (1983). She also wrote the books Jazz and Twelve O'Clock Tales: New Stories (2008), Mambo Hips & Make Believe: A Novel (Black Sparrow Press, 1999), and A War of Eyes and Other Stories (1988). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Coleman was regarded as a central figure in Los Angeles literary life. Source

Dear Mama (4)

when did we become friends?

it happened so gradual i didn't notice

maybe i had to get my run out first

take a big bite of the honky world and choke on it

maybe that's what has to happen with some uppity youngsters

if it happens at all


and now

the thought stark and irrevocable

of being here without you

shakes me


beyond love, fear, regret or anger

into that realm children go

who want to care for/protect their parents

as if they could

and sometimes the lucky ones do


into the realm of making every moment


laughing as though laughter wards off death

each word given

received like spanish eight


treasure to bury within

against that shadow day

when it will be the only coin i possess

with which to buy peace of mind





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Literary Devices:


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence

Bleeding Title

when the title of a poem acts as the first line


(of a literary work) in the form of letters