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.


Lanie Marie said...


respectrevolutionary said...

Sista, you are talented! I just "discovered" you through a woman at church who quoted one of your pieces, "Masterpiece". I love your work. Keep on your righteous path...there is power in words.
Jason, author of "dissedRespect"