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Gwendolyn Brooks’s 1959 poem “We Real Cool” is a work of deceptive simplicity. The poem consists only of a short epigraph, followed by eight lines that are broken into four two-line stanzas. These lines comprise eight distinct sentences, all of which are identical in having just three words. Furthermore, all twenty-four words in the poem are monosyllables, which means that they only have one syllable each. Everything about “We Real Cool” reflects the childlike naïveté of the poem’s collective speakers. These speakers, who use the first-person plural pronoun “we,” belong to a group of rebellious pool-playing teenagers who are making a manifesto-like declaration of their various rebellious behaviors. As evidenced by the opening claim, “We real cool,” the speakers take pride in their bad conduct. However, their catalog of deviancy concludes with the surprising declaration, “We / Die soon” (lines 7–8). Although the speakers seem keen to emulate those other youthful rebels from popular culture who have died young, these concluding lines also resonate with tragic irony. What, the poet seems to ask, are the social causes that would lead to such reckless and self-destructive behavior?