Poems about Life Short

Short Poems About Life 

Poems About the Life We Live 


Poems about life are typically some of the best poems to write; often allowing us a method to express and make sense of the joyful, complex, challenging and unpredictable life journey all of us take. The life of a poet is hopefully more than the words they write but rather the life they live.

Maya Angelou truly exemplified living a life worth writing.  Angelou’s other lives included but limited to a singer; as a composer; as a dancer as an actor in the play The Blacks and in films such as Calypso Heat Wave and How to Make an American Quilt; as a civil rights worker with Martin Luther King, Jr., a friend, and confidant to Muhammad Ali and others. As a journalist in Egypt and Ghana; as a writer for television and Hollywood; as director of the 1998 film Down in the Delta.

Maya Angelou lived the life she wrote about. 


Poetry about life is revelation, inspiration and often a desperate attempt to make sense of the world we live in. 

We are our choices, experiences, environment, challenges, and outlook on life.  As we encounter different situations and go through life we will ultimately with the struggles and triumphs of this world.  As spiritual beings in a physical body when we encounter a challenge, some of us do have the freedom to choose how to react. Not everyone is given this freedom. Because of this, every decision that we make leads us in a different direction.  Every decision that we make has significance. Our thoughts impact our outlook impacts our decisions create habits and our habits determine our success, failure, and outcome. The choices that we make reverberates throughout the entire life and world we experience. This is the very reason that this website Rafa Selase Music is dedicated to poems about life, music that is relevant to our experiences and words that bring meaning.


Poetry extracts the essential moments and meanings of life in a few words.  



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Poems about Happiness

Happiness is not perfected until it is shared - African Proverb

Happiness is an ambiguous concept. Poetry tends to define and explain the beauty of happiness while relating the concepts of well-being, quality of life, flourishing, and contentment.

In philosophy and (western) religion, happiness may be defined in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. There has been a transition over time from emphasis on the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness or that of joy.

ACTION KEY FOR WRITERS: Write about what makes you happy!

Poems about Family

The basic social unit consisting of parents and their children is how many look at a family. But poems tend to explain how we are all connected and he powerful a family unit can be when on one accord. Sometimes poets will also expose the sad times and experiences that all of us share while being part of a family unit whether it is the traditional family or those we are connected too. The family may include our communities, cities, and nation as a whole. Those which you feel connected or disconnected from.

ACTION KEY FOR WRITERS: Write about who influenced you and how! 

Short Funny Poems

Funny poems can still be serious but a secret is making a serious poem very funny. Check this poem “misstra know it all”

Langston Hughes is best known as one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. Much of his writing addresses the experience of being black at a time when to use his own words, “the negro was in vogue.” While he is largely remembered for his jazz-poetry, plays, and novels, Langston Hughes was also a witty comical writer. With so many praises for his contributions, it's easy to overlook his light and humorous side. Here is a small video I did on the piano using "jazz poetry technique"...It's called Misttra Know it All inspired by Stevie Wonder. 

Deep Poems About Life

I think all poems can be rather deep but I want to believe I typically fit in this category. James Baldwin always provides deep, meaningful poems that make you think and often re-assess your own actions. Below an example of Mr. Baldwin's work: 

            when you send the rain,
            think about it, please,
            a little?
            not get carried away
            by the sound of falling water,
            the marvelous light
            on the falling water.
            am beneath that water.
            It falls with great force
            and the light
            me to the light.

Beautiful Poems

Beauty is everyone and every morning is stares you in the mirror. Maya Angelou sets  the standard: 

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise

Motivational Poems

People always enjoy poems about life that inspire and motivate!

Muhammad Ali - Before regaining the title by upsetting George Foreman Oct. 30, 1974.

"You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?

Wait `til I whup George Foreman's behind.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

His hand can't hit what his eyes can't see.

Now you see me, now you don't.

George thinks he will, but I know he won't.

I done wrassled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale.

Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick.

I'm so mean, I make medicine sick." 


The Better Question is “Why is Faith Important”

I believe poetry often gives us hope and faith to continue persevering in this life.

The smallest poem can provide hope, courage, and energy.  The Bible often reads as poetry “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Poetic and powerful!  Matthew 17:20

Poetry is all that is honest in the World

Poetry is the last voice!

 As children, we used to see things with such hope, optimism, and honesty.  It wasn’t difficult to have this outlook.  But as we grow, we experience life, disappointments, indoctrination, and our outlook becomes that of survival to fit in and appear the "same". What a boring outcome and chain of events that everyone pretends to see the same thing.

 Poetry is the thing that keeps you moving towards those things that are good, gives you a reason to question, provides a bridge to celebrate and causes you to keep going when nothing else will. Poetry or faith is simply to trust in those things you cannot see nor touch but that you believe will come true. Poetry is the opposite of fear, it is courage and the faith to say what you see and say it with complete honesty.

Poetry Requires Courage

Great athletic feats, great music, art, and outstanding accomplishments are all results of some magnificent dream that someone had to see beyond their current reality. Poets must live courageously to tell the story with boldness, honesty, and creativity. The fact that people reach for the unseen is why the world is so beautiful.



In modern popular fiction, a superhero (or superhero) is usually a type of costumed heroic character who possesses supernatural or superhuman powers and is hopefully dedicated to fighting crime, evil or the oppressor. This may include protecting the public, standing up for the weak, and setting a positive example. Most often they battle a supernatural force or crazed sociopath set on destroying the human race.

 In reality, by most definitions, superhero characters do not require actual supernatural or superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes. We all have superhero capabilities, but often we need to be reminded of just how powerful we can be when moved by purpose. Your sight, your vision, your perspective, and your pen is your superhero power.  Once I realized this everything changed for me creatively!

 9 Steps to writing poetry and become your own poetic superhero:

  1. Find a purpose – Find your why! Is it your family, your heart’s desire, social issue or something different? What type of poetry do you want to write?

  2. Document the Issues that concern - write down everything that is important to you. Now research and observe everything that you can about the issue. Start writing!

  3. Develop a physical exercise program – it is difficult to do anything when you don’t have the physical strength or energy to accomplish what you desire. Yes, writing poetry will require your physical energy. It is truly a journey. Rafa said it!

  4. Develop a daily prayer/meditation practice - that focuses on speaking positive affirmations about yourself and others. I believe this will help anyone’s perspective and insight!

  5. Be involved in social, political and economic issues – Yes, get involved. But instead of choosing a side, think of how you can build a bridge that focuses on respect, equality, and safety for all people. Poets are people that care this is why we do what we do! Getting involved doesn’t necessarily mean joining but rather staying up to date!

  6. Humility – Simple never think you’re better than anyone else and never think less of yourself than anyone. Best place to write from!

  7. Spend some time alone (a little) – Superheroes are special, so at some point, they go through a time of ridicule. Don’t let this get to you. Criticism is usually a sign that you are different and unique. This is a powerful place and often when miraculous things happen.

  8. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations – Discomfort is usually when you learn the most and grow.

  9. Take Action – Poets don’t wait for others. They write and express! Take action you have everything you need inside you to accomplish your heart’s desires.



I attempt to use poems to connect with people. Poems about life are about the environmental,  political, social, spiritual and capitalistic world we live in. Urban Poetry is direct, gritty and a reminder of what many want to forget.

Poems About Life: Urban Poetry & Black Poetry

My music uses poems to connect with people authentically. Poems about life, about living in this world, dealing with the ups, downs, and tribulations of life. Urban Poetry is straightforward, honest and free in a world that refuses to address the realities of systematic oppression in America. Many urban poets like Maya Angelou spoke about military injustice, poverty, lack of access to education and mind control by way of media control and lastly racism.

I personally like poetry that focuses on the essence of using philosophical views, art, beauty, culture and rhythmic sound to connect with our audience.

We love poems about life: Poetry is so beautiful in that it allows the artist to address critical issues with grace, beauty, honesty and apologetically.

Urban Poetry

Urban Poetry In simple terms is a person that has experienced, felt it, withstood it and is now communicating the experience with a style that cannot be denied. Think Gil Scott Heron, Jill Scott, Tupac Shakur, Nikki Giovanni. Furthermore, Good Urban Poetry is stating what you mean or directly stating something that parallels what you really mean. Adding insight, further brings the reader or listener into the poem(experience).

One of my favorite poets was the Great Gil Scott, The poem is titled  “The Revolution Will Be On Facebook” was inspired by him.

Black Poetry

I hate this term "Black Poetry" because poetry is just poetry. But given the historical climate of America; blacks have often been unable to express themselves so they needed to distinguish themselves amongst the masses in order to be heard. Black poetry is deep, it's experienced, it’s talking about the realities of the so-called black person and experience when others are unwilling to acknowledge the realities and history of America. Black Poetry is Urban Poetry and simply poems about life.

Deepest Poems About Life

Urban Poetry & Black Poetry are at the center of addressing the condition of the people. This page is dedicated to poems about life, urban poetry, black poems, and black poetry.

 I was told by some I hold in high esteem:

Maintain freedom of expression at all times over political correctness.
Write the truth over instead of embracing fear
Share your work
Being unapologetic when it comes to your literary work 
Believe everyone has a poem to share
Show appreciation for the work of others
Write as if poetry may is the last authentic voice

 Rarely Mentioned Poems about life by African American Poets


Let America Be America Again - Langston Hughes - 1902-1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. 



On Being Brought from Africa to America - Phillis Wheatley - 1753-1784

'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.


Nikki Giovanni - Beautiful Black Men

With compliments and apologies to all not mentioned by name)

i wanta say just gotta say something
bout those beautiful beautiful beautiful outasight
black men
with they afros
walking down the street
is the same ol danger
but a brand new pleasure

sitting on stoops, in bars, going to offices
running numbers, watching for their whores
preaching in churches, driving their hogs
walking their dogs, winking at me
in their fire red, lime green, burnt orange
royal blue tight tight pants that hug
what i like to hug

jerry butler, wilson pickett, the impressions
temptations, mighty mighty sly
don't have to do anything but walk
on stage
and i scream and stamp and shout
see new breed men in breed alls
dashiki suits with shirts that match
the lining that compliments the ties
that smile at the sandals
where dirty toes peek at me
and i scream and stamp and shout
for more beautiful beautiful beautiful
black men with outasight afros

Nikki Giovanni

On The Subway - The Last Poets

On the subway

(On the subway)

I dug a man digging on me

But the dude was hung up in a mass of confusion

As to who I was

He thought he was trying to see

But you see, but you see

Me knowing me

Black, proud, determined to be free

Could plainly see my enemy

(I seen that nigga somewhere before)

Yes, yes, yes, I know him

I once slaved for him, body and soul

And made him a pile of black gold

Off the sweat of my labor he stole

(Next stop, next stop, next stop, next stop)

But his game, his game is old

(Next stop, next stop)

We broke in the mental hole

(Next stop, next stop)

Things must change

(Next stop, next stop)

There's no limit to our range

(Next stop, next stop)

He can never understand

(Next stop, next stop)

The new black man

(Next stop, next stop)

Let alone, see us every day

(Next stop, next stop)

Riding the subway

(Next stop, next stop, next stop, next stop)

Eighth Avenue, Seventh Avenue, Sixth Avenue

I-N-D, B-M-T, I-R-T

He still hasn't dug me

(Next stop, next stop, next stop, next stop)

He stares endlessly

(Next stop, next stop, next stop)



Blink, blink

(Blink, blink)

Blink, blink

Blink, blink, blink, blink

Blink, blink, blink, blink

He's on the brink

About to sink

I ask you, shall I save him?

Can he be saved?

(No! No, no!)

Next stop, 125th Street


Gil Scott-Heron - Pieces of man

"?Jacky? jigsaw pieces

Tossed about the room

I saw my grandma sweepin'

With her old straw broom

But she didn't what she was doin'

She could hardly understand

That she was really sweepin' up

Pieces of a man

I saw my daddy greet the mailman

And I heard the mailman say

"now don't you take this letter to heart now Jimmy

Cause they've laid off nine others today"

But he didn't know what he was saying

He could hardly understand

That he was only talkin' to

Pieces of a man

I saw the thunder and heard the lightnin'!

And felt the burden of his shame

And for some unknown reason

He never turned my way

Pieces of that letter

Were tossed about that room

And now I hear the sound of sirens

Come knifing through the gloom

But they don't know what they are doing

They could hardly understand

That they're only arrestin'

Pieces of a man

I saw him go to pieces

I saw him go to pieces

He was always such a good man

He was always such a strong strong man

Yeah, I saw him go to pieces

I saw him go to pieces"

Langston Hughes - The Negro Speaks of Rivers
(To W.E.B. DuBois)

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow
of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went
down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom
turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


The Black Family Pledge - Maya Angelou

BECAUSE we have forgotten our ancestors,
our children no longer give us honor.

BECAUSE we have lost the path our ancestors cleared
kneeling in perilous undergrowth,
our children cannot find their way.

BECAUSE we have banished the God of our ancestors,
our children cannot pray.

BECAUSE the long wails of our ancestors
have faded beyond our hearing,
our children cannot hear us crying.

BECAUSE we have abandoned our wisdom of mothering and fathering,
our befuddled children give birth to children
they neither want nor understand.

BECAUSE we have forgotten how to love, the adversary is within our gates,
an holds us up to the mirror of the world shouting,
“Regard the loveless.”

Therefore We Pledge
to bind ourselves again to one another,
to embrace our lowliest,
to keep company with our loneliest,
to educate our illiterate,
to feed our starving,
to clothe our ragged,
to do all good things,
knowing that we are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters.

We ARE our Brothers and Sisters.

IN HONOR of those who toiled and implored God with golden tongues,
and in gratitude to the same God who brought us out of hopeless desolation,

We make this pledge.


Paul Robeson - A Home in That Rock

A Home in That Rock

I got a home in that rock, don't you see?

I got a home in that rock, don't you see?

Between the earth an sky

Thought I heard my Savior cry

You got a home in that rock, don't you see


Poor man Lazurus poor as I, don't you see?

Poor man Lazurus poor as I, don't you see?

When he died he found a home on high

He had a home in that rock, don't you see

Rich man Dives lived so well, don't you see?

Rich man Dives lived so well,

When he died he had a found a home in Hell

He had no home in that rock, don't you see

A poor man Lazurus poor as I, don't you see


God gave Noah the rainbow sign, don't you see

God gave Noah the rainbow sign, don't you see

No more water but fire next time

Better get a home in that rock


James Baldwin - Paradise

Let this be my summertime

Of azure sky and rolling see,

And smiling clouds, and wind -kissed laughter,

And just myself entrances with thee.

And children playing in the glory

Of a carefree, youthful day,

And sunshine shining from the havens

And tears and sighing fled away.

Let this be my happiness

‘Mist the earths swift-flowing woe.

Let this be my only solace-

Just to know you love me so.

Just to know that we’ll go winging.

Far above this earthy clime,

Hand in hand through laughing meadows.

Let this be my summertime.





  1. Langston Hughes
  2. James Baldwin
  3. Gil Scott-Heron
  4. Tupac Shakur
  5. Nikki Giovanni
  6. Gwendolyn Brooks | Poetry Foundation
  7. Maya Angelou
  8. John Henrik Clarke
  9. Audre Lorde
  10. Paul Laurence Dunbar
  11. Frances Harper
  12. Emily Dickinson
  13. Oscar Wilde
  14. Mark Twain
  15. Ralph Waldo Emerson


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