Poem: Roots & Wings

in follow-up to "chocolate mista" and in celebration of national poetry month, here is the poem "roots & wings" that chronicles my first time performing my own poetry in public. the video footage is from my performance of "roots and wings" live at java monkey coffeehouse in decatur, ga in 2008 and is also featured on the live at java monkey cd. enjoy. :)

Roots & Wings

I didn’t mean to do it
I mean they sold me out
As soon he asked were there any poets in the house
I was the one who got fingerpointed
Pushed and shoved to the center of a carpet stage
A tiny bookstore, Montgomery, Alabama
It was called Roots and Wings
I was probably standing somewhere between Nikki Giovanni’s love poems and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I think I recalled Nathan McCall, because it definitely made me wanna holla
When I looked out at the 50 some odd of my classmates faces staring back at me
While I nervously tried my photographic memory
Trying to recall the words on a page I’d written over and over again
But never imagined I’d say out loud in front of anyone

I couldn’t believe that anybody was on the edge of their seat listening to me
I was only seventeen
Somewhere I found the courage and it carried me line for line until the end
And after all the hugs and smiles from friends
I was still shaking
That’s when I knew this was real
That words have wings
That they are kind of like birds but mostly like children
Who you groom and raise
You hope you’ve shaped them well
That a sky that has no limits will receive them
That someday somebody will take them home
Call them their own
That they will find a place to belong

I came from a line where righteousness ran through the blood like sugar and rolling stone daddies
And maybe the people who were pushing me had been here long before my classmates
Maybe my grandparents and their preacher sisters and brothers were pushing me too
They fed me parables and I acquired a taste for truth
They stood behind pulpits and I stand behind this mic
Just like them I have to get on my knees and hum prayers when words don’t suffice
Sing the hymns that can’t be found in hymnbooks
Learn to lean on everlasting arms and hold fast to the words that only God can write on hearts
These hands never knew picking cotton
But the hands that did knew how to spin stories
Knew how to sew quilts of memory so I could read my family history in a stitch
Every time my grandmother speaks I realize that words have roots
That they are kind of like trees but mostly like seeds
Who you groom and raise
You hope you plant them well
That fertile ground will receive them
That they will find a place to stand and stretch their meaning
That someday somebody will take them home
Call them their own
That they will find a place to belong

Words keep teaching me to dream
Keep reminding me that God listens when I sing
That’s how I know this is real
And I am still shaking.


Poem: Chocolate Mista

it's national poetry month! last year i tried writing a poem a day...i only made it to day 7. lol this year i'm posting some of my favorite poetry quotes on facebook and i'm posting the work of some of my favorite poets on twitter. i am also digging some poems out of the archives and thought it would be fitting to start with this one. i'll be posting a difference archive once a week this month so check back for more shenanigans. :)

"chocolate mista" is the first performance poem i ever wrote. i was seventeen and had probably recently watched love jones. lol i performed this piece for the first time during spring break of my senior year in high school in a bookstore called roots & wings. wrote a poem about that too so maybe i'll post that one later this month also. :D haven't performed this piece since college so i figured it can now see the light of day. here goes... ;)

Chocolate Mista

The crowd is alive and thrives
On the sound that is music to our ears and water to our souls.
My eyes scanned panoramically and danced dynamically
At the sight of so many chocolate faces.
I whirled and twirled
Like a childhood ballerina to the music that is wind to my wings
And I bumped into him.

The Nubian prince I dreamed of,
The chocolate mista. I have seen love
Come and go for some,
But his eyes and my eyes
They met like the sun and the moon exchanging high fives
Just before it is the moon's time to shine.
My, my, could his beauty and mine
Have intertwined
Like held hands!
But I looked away.

Avoiding the vision that just encompassed me
By looking too deep
Into the chocolate eyes
Of this chocolate mista
As chocolate mist
Began to fall over the heads of all of us.
God would solve for us,
The mystery of this man
With a plan
To understand me.
Not just romance me but have some truth to his game.
He caught my eyes like a wild butterfly held captive in the hand,
And like the band
The terms that flowed from his lips mingled and hobnobbed to become one voice comprised of all the parts of life
As he said...Hello.

What could my reply be but the same?
And names exchanged
Made conversation easy.
It pleased me
That he was not intimidated by my dark skin
Nor the soft angel within.

We could stand in the midst of the mist,
And if an honest answer is like being kissed
He kissed me gently each time he said a word.
I thought of so many things to say but lost my nerve.
My heartbeat could not be heard
Above the rejoicing of the people around us.
They may have clowned us,
But the mist drowned us
In a tingling feeling that can only be described as dejavu.

Where were you, Boo?
In all my lonely moments and the happy ones,
So I could share your smile,
But my style
Is much too chill for that.
So, I strolled through the crowd as the fall of the mist ended,
By this chocolate mista
Who complemented this dark sista