Ladies and Gentlemen, a classic from Saul Williams.
“She received the fruit of the rain at the beginning of God’s mouth
and rubbed her belly for a sense of serendipity
you can’t tell me she ain’t fierce the way she always
embarrass you with the truth.”
“Women of warrior blood
a ritual of stares for superiority
and one word never needs to be spoken
It’s in her eyes
that reflect a promised lake of fire
to toss her divided soul
that pulls at her like a chariot with two head strong horses.”
“Black Privilege is having to have the same sense of humor as Jesus, remember how he smiled on the cross? Black Privilege is a joke, a myth, a punchline…”
She’s heard more eulogies than poetry so I wrote this for her.
Amidst the sips of licorice tea, I asked her
“what would she do differently.”
She replied she’d “love as fearlessly as she fought
take more time,
soak the greens instead of rinse ’em”
research his heart as she did antiquity.
She truly believed that for years she had a melody
but never a song
“conquer your souls duality” she told me
the world is depending on you to love
Nikki Skies, ©2007 Published in anthology of “His Rib: Stories Poems & Essays by HER” by Penmanship Publishing Group
“Pretty little baby, I have raised you like a woman… when you see the crocodiles you will come to your mother and we will laugh at them.”
– Alice Walker—–HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni through the poem, “Ego Tripping”
“I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission”
“I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
I was maybe a senior in high school when I found Giovanni through this poem at my local library. And I remember the embarrassed feeling I got after I read the poem. I thought…”who is this woman bragging on herself?” “who does she think she is to be referencing herself a Queen and being the mother to Hannibal and Noah?” I remember it felt great but it was also foreign. I almost didn’t want to be caught reading it.
What I realize now is that may have been my first time being introduced to an African American feminine narrative.
The poem wasn’t about doors or boats from Robert Frost.
The poem wasn’t about hope and feathers from Emily Dickinson.
It wasn’t the blues from Langston Hughes.
It wasn’t Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton or Paul Lawrence Dunbar…
or my beloved Maya Angelou and her Caged Bird…
Nikki Giovanni was the first time I read an African American woman refer to herself as beautiful and being directly connected to all things beautiful in the art world of poetry.
I remembering sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle at the library and reading the poems in her book and imagining a Tennessee cloud looking like cotton candy… women being judged for the length of their Sunday school dresses… summer love… and even to this day when someone mentions her name… it makes me smile and remember meeting her in the library that afternoon.
When I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Selma for the 50th anniversary earlier this year, Rev. Al Sharpton said something in a sermon that struck a cord with me. He said, “We praise our dead and condemn the living.” It made me want to acknowledge everyone that has served as inspiration to me before they left this planet!
So today, I acknowledge Nikki Giovanni! I speak her name for inspiring me and making me feel so embarrassingly, wonderful and warm about myself one afternoon at the library 🙂 The audacity of learning from poetry!