Pedestal Poetry: Dear Mama

The Pedestal Project is excited to feature poetry submitted by our readers in our Pedestal Poetry series. If you are a Black woman and have any pieces that you’d like featured on the site, please send submissions to

Born and raised during times where you could get many jobs without a college degree

You always told me, “nothing comes easy you must work hard for it”
That’s why you rewarded me for every ‘A’ I earned on my report card
I remember wanting you to walk me to school at 7am like the other mothers did, but you were sleep
I remember wanting you to come to my award assemblies, but you had minimal time off so you could not leave
I remember wanting you just to spend time with me, but you was tired because you worked 7 days a week
I didn’t understand how much you sacrificed for your kids
Not only did you have 1, nor 2, but 3
It seemed you had a job for each child
Now I understand why you was never free
Mama, don’t worry I got you
I just need some time
You did not know much about school, but the survival skills you taught me are key
Because of your hard work, no one can outwork me
I remember every Friday and Saturday night I would watch you in the mirror while you dressed for Frances
You was the bartender everyone loved especially men
Your dresses fit your coke bottle shape so snug that men would ask to sit their drinks on top of your rump
If you had of let them, the drink would have stayed there
The red lipstick you wore illuminated your teeth like the sun
Only difference is that it is yellow
Mama, you was fine
I dedicate both degrees to you
You didn’t understand my struggles,
but the way you bragged about me
Is one reason why I made it
You talked to anyone who sat next to you, and the main topic would be me
Even though you always told people, I’m a member of a fraternity and you never could remember my school
I can tell you was so proud of me
And Mama, I’m not through
I’m working hard, but all I need is a little more time
Mama, I plan to take care of you
Now the casinos and cigarettes are your escape from the harsh realities of
being single at 58, living with someone else to afford rent, slaving at a job you can rarely leave your desk to go pee, and now scraping up change to pay for some teeth
Doctors told you years ago to stop smoking
Now you’re ashamed because when you smile that big smile doesn’t illuminate
You’ve lost your skin color and you’re always complaining about some body part bothering you
Mama, time and time again I asked you to stop smoking
I see how the nicotine is ruining your health
Mama, I hate to see you like this.
Don’t you want to see me have kids and marry a great man?
Mama, please just stop. I beg you
I promise I’ll take care of you
I just need a little more time
As the years progress, your health declines
My deepest fear is that I’m running out of time


Written and submitted by Nicole Jones

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