Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback
And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation
Of crimes clichéd by
Repetition. Her children, strangers
To childhood’s toys, play
Best the games of darkened doorways,
Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
Other people’s property.

Too fat to whore,
Too mad to work,
Searches her dreams for the
Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
Into a den of bereaucrats for
Her portion.
‘They don’t give me welfare.
I take it.’

Analysis, meaning and summary of Maya Angelou's poem Momma Welfare Roll


  1. V.Smith says:

    I love this Poem because it speaks on true “black” life and as a woman i take pride in where i came from and if my ancestors or mother had to break her back to get me where i am it will be a learning tool for me. This poem shows outsiders that are looking in how “black” living is.

  2. Kim Hamilton says:

    Hello i will like to say to maya that all of your poem sounds really nice! and that’s it have given me to write about my felling, and the stuff i have been went through. thank you Maya you are my roll midle. we rises!

  3. maribel oliver says:

    re: poem Momma Welfare Roll

  4. ishmaelah says:

    this is a very nice piece and it was my first time reading it. i love Maya Angelou

  5. cassie modlin says:

    this poem is very nice and very realistic nice work

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