Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou


The cages I have lived in, have mostly been of my own making.

Keys swallowed,

choking on self sabotage, self-destruction.

A degree not finished.

An emptied womb.

Wasted opportunities.

Boyfriends that troubled me.

Two bad marriages,

jails that encased my heart.

I can make a list.

The racism and discrimination of amerikkka

is a cage that I defy.

A constant battle of self-identity,


the right to spread my wings,

in freedom’s sigh.

I can make a list

of all the ways my color and sex get denied.


A racist phrase.

A lynching in disguise.

And when white folks say get over it,

and sanctimoniously roll their eyes.

When they say white privilege does not exist...

It’s then that

I know why the caged bird sings,

So you can’t hear it’s screams and cries.

Cotton fabric from Ghana and the U.S., vintage wood cage,found metal - street trash found in Syracuse, recycled wood from a neighbor’s renovation, acrylic paint, store bought nest, gourd, ink, photo transfers