Lucille Clifton

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What are key elements of the poem "Good Times" by Lucille Clifton?

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Lucille Clifton writes very expressive poetry, generally autobiographical, and always full of "accessible" imagery.  By that I mean she uses everyday elements to draw for us a picture of her intent.  In "Good Times," the speaker (presumably Clifton herself) is reflecting on the moments which gave her the most positive feelings about her growing-up years.  Let's not be fooled, though.  In the middle of the "good times" are implied some very difficult times, as well.

The opening lines reflect the responsibilities of her father and indicate good times only because the bad times are past--the times when the rent was unpaid, the insurance man was trying to collect his account and the electric bill was unpaid. 

my daddy has paid the rent
and the insurance man is gone
and the lights is back on

The next lines indicate the luck associated with good time, as her uncle has hit the lottery. These are all money-related and demonstrate lean and cold times.

The next stanza reflects a different view of what is good--the simple, homey things which create a relaxed and positive environment.  Home now smells good and tastes good, has the sounds of laughter and singing and family, and all is now right with the world.   

my mama has made bread
and grampaw has come
and everybody is drunk
and dancing in the kitchen
and singing in the kitchen

Like anything else in life, the good times are magnified when seen in comparison to the bad times.  When the house is dark and cold, there is no bread, no laughter, no family, no singing, no dancing. 

The speaker's final words are an encouragement that even when times are bad, good times are coming:

oh children think about the
good times.

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