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‘Cause I Ain't Got a Pencil
Joshua T. Dickerson


I woke myself up
Because we ain’t got an alarm clock.
Dug in the dirty clothes basket,
‘Cause ain’t nobody washed my uniform.
Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,
‘Cause the lights ain’t on.
Even got my baby sister ready,
‘Cause my mama wasn’t home.
Got us both to school on time
To eat us a good breakfast.
Then when I got to class the teacher fussed
‘Cause I ain’t got no pencil.

© 2014 by Joshua T. Dickerson.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Joshua T. Dickerson lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Author of multiple books, he has created several programs to empower youth, has helped establish chess and robotics clubs in partnership with various program, and uses his experience and affection for children to train teachers and administrators on incorporating literacy into daily educational activities. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta. Learn more about him here.




Post New Comment:
So moving, so powerful, so poignant Mr. Dickerson. Poetry filled with feelings that hurts the hearts and the soul to hear the pain and to know the truth of how underprivileged children live. Obviously that teacher never felt that kind of pain and misfortune. I appreciate and thank you for your words of truth.
Posted 04/06/2024 11:27 AM
Joshuas excellent and poignant poem unpacks an early morning in the life of this boy who lives in real poverty..Thank you for opening my eyes and our hearts. This ones a saver.
Posted 04/05/2024 12:00 AM
A powerful poem. Shame on that teacher for belittling that boy. The poem reminds me too of how little I know of real poverty like that and what it must be like thank you for opening my eyes wider.
Posted 04/04/2024 11:32 PM
Lori Levy:
Simply expressed, but very powerful.
Posted 04/04/2024 12:51 PM
michael escoubas:
So apt, Joshua, for the present moment in which we live (or for any moment in any age). This one's a "keeper" for sure.
Posted 04/04/2024 11:34 AM
There is so much this child ain't got, but he and his sister got breakfast.
Posted 04/04/2024 11:29 AM
This poem humbled me and made me think of the privileges I've enjoyed in life even when I thought I had relatively nothing. It's amazing what a few words of poetry can convey.
Posted 04/04/2024 11:24 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love this poem because it shows how some of us learn as children to overcome adversity and get themselves and their siblings to school despite the poverty and bullying. I bet this kid went on to college and became a teacher with compassion and understanding for those let fortunate than himself..
Posted 04/04/2024 11:12 AM
Tom Sharpe:
This poem makes you think and feel and learn as great poems do.
Posted 04/04/2024 10:02 AM
Fabulous Joshua. Simple and powerful.
Posted 04/04/2024 09:27 AM
Joshua reminds us in this poem that everyone has a back story and coming from a place of kindness and compassion in our interactions with others is the best place to be.
Posted 04/04/2024 08:25 AM
Makes me wonder where that boy (now a man) might be today. I hope the lesson that teacher learned that day was used well - and was able to influence that boys future for good. This poems offers the reader the opportunity to view the world, and other people, with different eyes. Thank you for sharing it.
Posted 04/04/2024 08:14 AM
Larry Schug:
At least there was breakfast for a wonderful big brother and his sister. A good poem, such as this, doesn't need a lot of words to convey its message.
Posted 04/04/2024 08:01 AM
Wilda Morris:
Wow! This is so moving. A good poem to read to teachers because when a teacher belittles a child, the other children consider that child fair game. And a good reminder to all of us of how terrible poverty can be for a child.
Posted 04/04/2024 08:00 AM
Very touching. Very powerful. Very sensitizing. Very heartbreaking. Randy Mazie
Posted 04/04/2024 07:58 AM
Pat Brisson:
Your poem moved me to tears, Joshua. Thank you.
Posted 04/04/2024 07:21 AM

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