As you can tell, the poem itself is pretty non-sensical from a certain perspective, but it does represent the original story in a way which I will explain. The poem starts off pretty bizarre with “She was walking when her purse broke a boy’s back, and his legs kicked her down,”. This is basically when the boy attempts to rob her purse but fails. Though the purse did not actually break his back and though the purse didn’t actually do anything, you could say that the purse was one of the causes for the boy’s failure.
“But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined caused him to lose his balance…”
For the “his legs kicked her down” part, it comes from when the boy tries to lie about attempting to rob the woman.
“The woman said, ‘What did you want to do it for?’
The boy said, ‘I didn’t aim to.’
She said, ‘You a lie!'”
And the “But she bent down enough to pick up the boy” part was from paragraph 6, when she quickly retaliates against the boy’s actions. Next comes when the boy becomes honest with the woman and answers her questions, which I simply put as “The woman said, ‘Did you want it?’ The boy said, ‘I did.'” which displays his honesty when the woman asks him if he wanted the bag or not. Then the woman loosens up a bit with the “By that time the woman did release him” part. Then the boy opens up a bit by apologizing and showing that he needs help by saying “I’m very sorry. I got a great mind.”. This is referencing when the boy tells the woman about how he has nobody looking after him at home, exposing his current situation and why he tried to rob her. She sees this and then says “Then it (referring to the “great mind”) will get washed this evening.”. And by wash, she means brainwash. This is a bit of an aggressive way of putting it, but the woman does change the boy’s perspective quite a lot after he leaves her house in the actual story. As for the background picture there’s no meaning for it other than the fact that it shows the woman strangling the child. It came from a film adaption of the story by “phoenixfilmandvideo” which you can watch here.
So yeah, that was my found poem from Langston Hughes’ “Thank You Ma’m”. It was kind of all over the place, but I hope it did a good job of representing the story.
Read the story here: Click me
More about the author of “Thank You Ma’m”: Click Me