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It's That Time Again! It's...

The mission statement for Brooks Permissions is —

“...demonstrating the continued relevance of the life and work 

of Gwendolyn Brooks in the 21st century… and beyond.“

Sadly, the poem we’ve selected today continues to be extremely relevant.

In “The Boy Died In My Alley” the speaker tells us about a young man she didn’t know and yet knew all too well.


▪️ Do you have an experience that relates to this one?

▪️ Is there a specific news story you connect to this poem?

▪️ What did GB mean when she wrote:

  I have known this Boy before.

  I have known this boy before, who ornaments my alley.

  I never saw his face at all.

  I never saw his futurefall.

  But I have known this Boy.

The Boy Died in My Alley

                                                          to Running Boy

The Boy died in my alley without my Having Known. Policeman said, next morning, "Apparently died Alone." "You heard a shot?" Policeman said. Shots I hear and Shots I hear. I never see the Dead. The Shot that killed him yes I heard as I heard the Thousand shots before; careening tinnily down the nights across my years and arteries. Policeman pounded on my door. "Who is it?" "POLICE!" Policeman yelled. "A Boy was dying in your alley. A Boy is dead, and in your alley. And have you known this Boy before?" I have known this Boy before. I have known this boy before, who ornaments my alley. I never saw his face at all. I never saw his futurefall. But I have known this Boy. I have always heard him deal with death. I have always heard the shout, the volley. I have closed my heart-ears late and early. And I have killed him ever. I joined the Wild and killed him with knowledgeable unknowing. I saw where he was going. I saw him Crossed. And seeing, I did not take him down. He cried not only "Father!" but "Mother! Sister! Brother." The cry climbed up the alley. It went up to the wind. It hung upon the heaven for a long stretch-strain of Moment. The red floor of my alley is a special speech to me.

- Gwendolyn Brooks

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