This is my favourite Ntozake Shange poem and one of my favourite poems. Loretta Devine recited it in Tyler Perry’s adaptation of For Coloured Girls but my absolute favourite recitation of this poem is done by Alfred Woodard. I’ve listened to her recitation over and over again and she brings the words to life. I’ve posted a link to the video and have also written out the words.
The words below are from Alfred Woodard’s recitation and may differ a bit from Ntozake’s version. Oh and if you haven’t realised: wid alla is ‘with all of’.
Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff.
Not my poems or a dance I gave up in the street,
but somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
like a kleptomaniac working hard and forgetting while stealing, this is mine.
This ain’t your stuff.
Now, why don’t you put me back and let me hang out in my own self?
Honest to God, somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
and didn’t care enough to send a note home saying
I was late for my solo conversation
or two sizes too small for my own tacky skirts.
What can anybody do with something of no value on
a open market? Did you get a dime for my things?
Hey! Man, where are you goin wid alla my stuff?
This is a woman’s trip, and I needs my stuff to ooh and aah about.
Daddy I gotta mainline number for my own airline.
Now woncha put me back and let me play this duet with this silver ring in my nose.
Somebody almost run off wid alla my stuff
and I didnt bring anythin but the kick and the sway of it.
The perfect ass for my man, and none of it is theirs
This is mine, Juanita’s- her own things-that’s my name
Now you give me my stuff back.
I see you hiding my laugh, and how I sit sometimes with my legs open to give my crotch
There goes my love, my toes, my chewed up finger nails.
Nigga, with the the curls in your hair!
Mr. louisiana hot link, I wants my stuff back.
My rhythms and my voice; open my mouth and let me talk you
Out of throwing my things in the sewer.
This is some delicate leg and some whimsical kiss I gotta have to give to my choice
without you runnin off wid alla my stuff
Now who is this he left me with?
Some simple bitch with a bad attitude
I wants my things
I want my arm with the hot iron scar
and my leg with the flea bite
I want my calloused feet and my quick language back in my mouth
fried plantains, and pineapple and pear juice
and sun-ra and Joseph and Jules
I want my own things, how I lived them.
and give me my memories, how I was when I was there
You can’t have them or do nothing with them.
Stealing my stuff from me don’t make it yours
It makes it stolen
Somebody almost run off with alla my stuff
And I was standing there looking at myself the whole time
It wasn’t a spirit took my stuff Luane,
It was a man whose ego walked round like Rodan’s shadow
A man faster than my innocence
A lover I made too much room for almost walked off wit alla my stuff
And I didnt know I’d give it up so quick
And the one running with it
don’t know he got it
I’m shouting: this is mine, and he don’t know he got it.
My stuff is the anonymous ripped off treasure of the year.
Did you know somebody almost got away with me
in a plastic bag under their arm?
Me, dangling on a string of personal carelessness
I’m spattered with mud and city rain
And no I didn’t get a chance to take a douche!
Hey! Man, this is not your prerogative
I gotta have me in my pocket to get round like a good woman should.
To make the poem in the pot or the chicken in the dance.
What I got to have
I gotta get my stuff to do it too.
So why don’t you find your own things?
And leave this package of me for my destiny.
What you got to get from me
I’ll give it to you
Yeah, I’ll give it to you.
Around 5 o’clock in the winter when the sky is blue-red
and Dew City is getting pressed
If it’s really my stuff
You gotta give it to me
If you really want it.
I’m the only one who can handle it.