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the sonnet-ballad
-Gwendolyn Brooks

Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover’s tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won’t be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
Can make a hard man hesitate — and change.
And he will be the one to stammer, “Yes.”
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?

From Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks. Third World Press,
Chicago. Copyright ©1987 by Gwendolyn Brooks.
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