Compiled Octavia's Brood Poem

A poem compiled by Professor Francesca T. Royster, who is the DePaul University's English Department Chair, of lines from Octavia's Brood.


Emerging Strategies

By Francesca T. Royster


“all that you touch you change” (Octavia Butler)

[this book] a shooting star (Sojourner Truth)

envision a world without war, without violence, without prison, without capitalism (Imarisha)


a messy plate of nachos…Pho (Phi)

a slender fish, oil on its scales … it was a hungry time (adrienne maree brown)

Zombies/ targeted communities (Phi)

The smell of mass-incarcerated flesh (Phi)

Her AK-47 (Phi)

Revolution? (Phi)


“Them white folks ain’t gonna take too kindly to a colored boy with superpowers.” (Walker)

They’d killed Martin, Malcom, Medgar, and so many others. (Walker)

All kinds of sparkling souls been weighted down all the way into the mud  (adrienne maree brown)

Bodies by the only overnight shelter, bodies in the fake downtown garden sponsored by coca-cola, bodies in potholes on streets strung with christmas lights because the broke city turned off the streetlights. (adrienne maree brown)

She wasn’t much on politics, but she hated  the shifts in the city, the way it was fading as it filled with people who didn’t know how to see it…Detroit. (adrienne maree brown)


The authorities were already here….No one was coming to help. (Imarisha)

The mother began scratching and biting the agent with all her might… The little girl ran to a dumpster and hid. (Imarisha)

The long memory…. We have a history between us (Phillips)

Listen! (Garcia)


A single guttural cry, and I force my body onto my feet, positioning the pack between my legs, assume a warrior stance. (Autumn Brown)

Mama, why do you keep saying “where are our sons?” when you are sleeping? (Garcia)


A crown or a veil. (Betts)

You’ve been alone. That’s over. We have too much to do. (Olaniran)

That very night O prepared her birds for flight. (Garcia)


Sent from the space world (Anderson)

She experiences it as peacock feathers, azure breath, the ghost of a word” (Piepzna-Samarasinha)


You remember that justice is no longer punishment. You affirm that the time of crime was an era of refused understanding and stunted evolution. We believe now in the experience of brilliance on the scale of the intergalactic tribe. (Gumbs)


Pattern, change, emerging strategy (Due/adrienne maree brown)


Cool clean waterfalls cascading down into cool green valleys, his mother’s hands cool on his hot forehead, the beauty of a grove of olive trees bright in the sunshine, his whole family, even the ones murdered and lost, gathered arm in arm. Peace. (Imarisha)

Breathe deep, beloved young and frightened self, and then let go. And then you will hold on. So then let go again.” (Gumbs)


Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless (Imarisha)