Old Folks Laugh – Maya Angelou 

They have spent their 

content of simpering, 

holding their lips this 

and that way, winding 

the lines between 

their brows. Old folks 

allow their bellies to jiggle like slow 

tambourines. 

The hollers 

rise up and spill 

over any way they want. 

When old folks laugh, they free the world. 

They turn slowly, slyly knowing 

the best and the worst 

of remembering. 

Saliva glistens in 

the corners of their mouths, 

their heads wobble 

on brittle necks, but 

their laps 

are filled with memories. 

When old folks laugh, they consider the promise 

of dear painless death, and generously 

forgive life for happening 

to them.

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