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poems of the week

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   why i write
(a personal anthem)
i write because i never want to die. 

long after my pen has rolled its final word, i expect to be heard. 
when it becomes hard to picture exactly what i look like, my wrinkled
expression some faint, faded charcoal drawing, i suspect someone will
try to picture how i looked, which way i tilted my head and how i
creased my brow when i was serious and thinking. when no one can feel
the glare of my smile, someone will hear my laughter. i am a
Blackwomanwriter bequeathing words and reflection, words and
introspection, words and early detection to my people. they will know
when i am gone what i have known, seen, felt, heard, touched and
smelled. i will live forever and ever . . . amen 

my pen has become a voice so much a part of me that i hear it even when
i choose not to listen. we are inseparable, this voice and i. we hurt
from the same wounds, cry the same tears, rejoice in identical
laughter, bask in the same intellect, and speak the same uncensored and
unapologetic truths. the pen and i must continue to be one forever and
ever . . . amen. 

my writing has evolved for many relevant reasons and many times for no
reason at all. i write for sarah vaughn's funny valentines and billie's
blue soul lullabies and dizzy's tilted, trumpeted nights in tunisia and
the bird man down in birdland; because stevie wonder and aretha and
sweet honey in the rock stir my soul to a tremor; because maya angelou
knows why the caged bird sings; because langston hughes wondered as he
wandered; because sweet lorraine had a tough message to fall on many a
young deaf ear and only three gifted and Black decades to get through
to somebody; because baldwin understood that we all must have a drug to
endure this journey; we must prepare for the fire next time . . . some
of us shoot up on paper; because vanessa williams never believed them
when they called her indecent. that deep-down voice inside told her
real queens don't need tiaras to walk in beauty like the night; 

i write because the Creator will not enter every man-made structure,
but She instructs me daily from within; i write because i am a Brown
woman with Black roots and lots of knew-growth . . . i write, i write,
i write . . . because it's the only logical response to an illogical situation. 

if you find me sitting over an unfinished work that i am no longer
sculpting with my pen, conjure me an epitaph (the living need those
too, you know): "here lies miss vivian's little happy nappy-go
faithfully Blackgirl. she spent her life looking for her own space, and
holding the hands of her sisters, and massaging the keloid lashes in
the backs of Black men and restoring Black people to their greatness.
the girl wrote herself to death . . . amen.

Cherryl Floyd-Miller (c) --

(for a friend) 

If I had known you were there
for all these years waiting
I would have held my breath more tightly
and pray the Lord, my soul to keep
till we meet in God's time.

If I knew meeting you
would bring the joy I dream of,
I would have saved all hugs and kisses
in all the banks of the world
just for the day we will first kiss.

If I knew it would be the greatest time
I'd hear a voice sweet as yours,
I would have left my heart safe,
to hear you sing day after day.

If I knew your arms were so warm,
I wouldn't have died in cold embraces
who chant "I love you," and kill me 
so softly till I faded out of sight.

If I knew living together with you
would be like being in heaven 
I would have asked to share your days,
longer than we do today
and surely wouldn't let this slip away.

Though I heard there is surely
tomorrow to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything right
will it be true to know you?

And if there will be a way
to say softly "I love you,"
and there's something to do
just to dream of you,
please, tell me gently.

And just in case I am wrong
in saying how much I love you
or that I dream of how good 
it would be to know you
will you gently and softly forgive me.

It was my grandmother who once said,
"Tomorrow is not promised to anyone
and love springs even in winter. So when 
Autumn comes, learn to water the plants so
that they flower in the Fall."

So if today may be the only time
to get and hold your loved one tight,
should we wait for tomorrow,
cursing that the cat meows
to early in the rising sun of today?

And what if tomorrow never comes
to make us regret the day we met
and forgot our doorbells should chime.

If there is a time for a smile,
a hug, or a kiss, this is
the time you must turn close
to make that one last wish.

If there is a time to hold your love
close to a heart that cares so much,
or whisper into the ears that want you
to tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear,
this is the only time.

Can you make it by taking time
to say it all over and bless the years
ahead of you with tears of love?

This is the only time especially
if tomorrow never comes,
to make you live in it again
or meet your love again.

Padmore Agbemabiese (c) --



I might have stayed there
engaged in the process,
caught up in the cycle,
needing us to be,
being what you needed
but never being needed by you.
I might have made demands
that elicited half-hearted promises
that echoed in the chamber of
insincerity because in reality
there was never an us,
only a you, only a me, and a
process that made us want 
there to be something we shared
that was more tangible than
just the same name.
I might have reasoned longer
had I not been
21, and positive 
it wasn't meant to be so hard,
and that the only word
that really mattered 
in the English language
was "next."

Peggy Eldridge-Love (c) --



Our ability to accept
as black people
especially black women
may lead as much to our demise
as well as our survival.
Sisters accept the fact that
we are mothers/fathers/lovers/friends
counselors/and diplomats
expected to wash/clean/fix and
while we supervise/organize/delegate
and mediate
We shop/drive/tote/lift/haul/put away
bathe children/pack lunches/do
laundry/correct homework
and still
cook dinner/dress wounds/stroke
egos/look pretty and
give encouragement, love and
to our men, even when
they ignore/chastise/misunderstand/
vent rage/put down/
drink/smack/hit and are unfaithful
all while pushing aside our own
blaming ourselves for our children's
fears/insecurities/and problems
and our husband's girlfriends, as well.
One day, if I
were to peel off all of my clothes
while walking out on the most
meeting/power lunch/dinner party/
parent conference/counseling session
while pulling at my hair, perhaps
making the six o'clock news
sistas watching around the world
might finally say
is enough.
Jamal Sharif (c) -- 
-- From her book "Passion, Pride and Politickin': Homegrown 
Poetry and Essays"

Sometimes I think
If born in those times
Of slavery
If the master proclaimed
The house nigga
Was only allowed to write words of meaning
Which is my passion
Would I serve crumpets with tea and eat their scraps?
To retrieve old pens and dried up papers
To express words
Never to be heard or read
By my people
Since the field hands had no reason to either
In their eyes
It is definitely something to ponder
But I think maybe my pension as a child
For writing words in the mud
With my finger when it rained
Is an indication
That the answer would be HELL NO!
Richard A. Parks Jr. a/k/a "RiP" (c) 
-- From his book "Someone Is Sleeping In My Head"


For only a word I was called away,
From my love, my hopes, my dreams, my morality.
I have become a killer in the name of two syllables,
And as I lay loose my wrath I wonder how seven 
letters can separate murder from duty.
Though I know the answer I pretend that I don't.
I tell myself that I believe in our oxymoronic disposition,
And that we are murderers in the name of God and righteousness.
I am an executioner of the innocent,
But in their death they serve the great word.
As I gaze at the radar screen I see people running 
as we fly overhead.  I turn the key, the latch opens, 
and a laser-guided bomb finds its target.  I wipe the 
sweat from my brow, and wonder why I must see so clearly 
the people I am hurting.
Devin Dickerson (c) -- -- Devin is 16 
years old and attends both NOCCA and Math &Science Academy 
in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Devin wrote "Freedom" to express 
his views on what war means to him.
your scent still lingers on my pillow
i am lonely because
there is only space between my arms
now that your side of the bed is cool

this morning my lips parted to inhale you
now, they part with a sly "remember when" grin
for those moments shared by only
u and i

it does not matter that we
have not always seen eye to eye
what matters is that despite it all,
still we try . . . and "why?" is a useless word
in our vocabulary

yes, at times I have lashed out in anger
tears gave way to fear and
my pen became my sword when
you and my heart were at war
but no more . . . from this day forth,
my pen will only write love songs in your honor

see we are connected because
we each hear our own voice
in the other's laughter, because
when we are together nothing else matters, because
your scent still lingers on my pillow
and it surrounds me completely
even when u are physically absent . . .

your scent still lingers on my pillow
and before I close my eyes,
i inhale once more and u appear
because i am where u belong
and i always will be . . .

Tonya Marie Evans (c) -- -- 
Tonya is the author of "Seasons of Her" and spoken word CD, 
"Shine".  For more details, visit Tonya's web site at 


sho' ain't
as easy
as it appears to be
'cause I wanna say
in an unrestricted way
how bad I want you
and everything I could do
to earn and keep your love
but then I'm forced to think of
and then
and then
you with her
and though my focus blurs
I can still see
you don't belong to me
and that instantly authenticates
the absolute need for self-restraint
but it sho' ain't
as easy
as it appears to be
so damn, stop flirting with me
while I'm trying desperately
not to feel what I feel
even though you're ideal
another sista's pain
will NEVER carry my name
because I will always draw the line
and stay away from what ain't mine
but believe me, self-restraint
sho' ain't
as easy
as it appears to be.
Cynthia Moore (c) --

warm glow
never extinguished
through the harsh winds of change
orange red fire
rising heat
our hearts
shifting taste and texture
never breaking
never stopping

Glendon Cameron (c) --


nervousness melts away as
the warmth of a southern breeze
traces the edge of my face
reminiscent of a favorite dream

the wind blows me through
secret passageways
and darkened corridors
that hold precious memories
of warm underground springs
and hidden valleys....

sweet solace from the world above
the sounds are soft and inviting
and I lose myself
in a flood of emotions

intense but so very tender as
I shed the layers of fear and
shame and step out naked
trembling not from cold
but from sheer delight

I submerge myself in the warmth
and float effortlessly on my back the darkness I watch as
sunlight creeps through tiny crevices
sparkling like distant stars
creating my own private

Veronica Tezion (c) --

I were to leave you
would you even notice
that the nature of who I am
is gone away?
I were to remove my royal beams
that support you
do you know that your strength
would diminish
to mere nothingness
for I am the foundation
that concedes you...

Would you wake in the middle of the night
searching for my warmth
sniffing for the scent of me
calling for the flesh of my thighs

Would you lie in bed on Sunday morning
waiting for your Spirit to rise?

Cause see it wasn't just my sexuality
that brought you to your knees
It be my knowledge of God
and life
it be my spirituality
and simple ability to be
all that you thought you wanted
and even more
of that you didn't even know you needed. . .

If I were to leave you
If I were to leave
If I wasn't stuck on "IF"

Tanya King (c) --


Sometimes I have to get away
From how much I love you
I hate the way you make me feel
I hate the way I stay up
All hours of the night
Waiting for you to call
Waiting for you to swing by the house.
Turning down the TV
So I can hear your knock at the door
This ain't ME

Waiting to wash my hair because
You might come by
Crying because I haven't heard your voice all day
Getting up from my bed because
I think I heard your car, but I didn't
But I get up fifteen minutes later
Because I think I heard you again
This ain't ME

Trying to convince myself at two in the morning
That it's ok for me to go to sleep
That the world won't end if I see you
Tomorrow instead of tonight and then
Closing my eyes for thirty minutes
Of glorious sleep only to awake
Because I think I heard your car again.
This ain't ME

Staying home
Just in case
You come by
No more wild nights with the girls
No more unscheduled day trips
Not because you told me too, because
Just in case
You drop by
I'm staying home
This ain't ME

Stop being so damn lovable
So I can visit some of my friends
Cuss me out one good time
So I won't feel so bad
When I spend the weekend in Atlanta
Put a phone number in your pocket
So I can sit up and eat a pint of ice cream in my pajamas
that's gots feets in them (the ugly ones with the ice skating
penguins, please).
On Saturday morning with one braid pointing to the sky
And the other pointing toward Alabama
With the crust in my eyes.

Forget to call me a couple of days
So I can tell you to eat or starve
Instead of trying to figure out how to make my potpie without peas.
So I can put on my faded purple Hanes sweat suit
With the lint pills on the seat of my pants
Stick cotton balls between my toes and
Give myself a pedicure.
Sometimes you get on my Damn Nerves
All I want is for you to leave me alone
But I let you sit up in my house and pick at me
Because the only thing that would make me more upset
Was if you weren't here.
So Never mind
I got you whipped, but in the process
I messed around and
Let you turn me out.
This ain't ME.
This is me by You.

Adrienne Leonard (c) --


TELEVISED  (A Tribute 2 Gil Scott Heron)
I can still hear Gil Scott Heron
Hollerin' at the top of his lungs
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Be advised
We're fighting a war
And no more tears are shed for your cause
Than come from your own eyes because
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
White lies
Black lies
Bold face lies
Hide covert ties to injustice
N other words
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The deaf ear of our society
Will not hear our cries
Instead they hear us enter a plea
Innocent isn't an option
They've already found us guilty of something
If nothing else...
Of telling the truth
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Only one thing has changed in 30 years
Now their fears have a voice
For a small price
Cable TV offers you a choice
Between right wing ideology
Left wing rhetoric
And rap videos disguised as the truth but
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
If you're looking for it
Check pay-per-view
They'll try to sell you a revolution as seen through their eyes
Filled with white lies
Black lies
Bold face lies
That hide covert ties to injustice
N other words. . .Our Revolution
The Revolution. . .Will Not Be Televised
There won't be a halftime show featuring J Lo
And even with Nikes on
People won't be able to jump out of the way
There won't be a million dollar field goal attempt
with a consolation prize
The Real Thing will take on a whole new meaning
And the Sopranos will have no meaning at all
Oprah won't have time to do an interview
Cause The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
I can still hear Gil Scott Heron
Hollerin at the top of his lungs
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Be No Re-Run Brothers
The Revolution Will Be Live
Keenan Pendergrass (c) -- 
-- Keenan is the author of "African Angels: Poetry for the 
Mind, Body and Spirit".  Visit his web site at
( to find out more about the author.

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