We Real Cool

Stayed home sick today with a thriving fever of 103.  I’ve been in bed all day, alternating between feeling well enough to watch The Office and feeling so hazy that sleep feels like the only possible option.

Somewhere past Michael hitting Meredith with his car and hour two of my third nap, I got a poem stuck in my head.  Not just any poem, but the poem.  We all thought this poem was the bees knees in high school, back when we also thought flare jeans would last forever and that Green Day’s music spoke to us.

Except this poem still is the bees knees.  It’s almost a song when you say it right.

The only lines I have memorized are the first 1.5: “We real cool. We/left school … ” so they have been my mantra today.

They sound good even when spoken through dry throat and cracked lips and DayQuil stupor.

We Real Cool, Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pool Players.  
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool.  We
Left school.  We
Lurk late.  We
Strike straight.  We
Sing sin.  We
Thin gin.  We
Jazz June.  We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks.

Source: Poetry (September 1959).

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