When I find the time to write for myself, poetry allowS me to right myself.
I use these words to make my points razor sharp
Yet, I find myself afraid of knives
I use my words to make you feel my thoughts
How close can I press these metaphors against you?
Every comma I use waits patiently as I take a brief rest
Every period sits there until I decide what comes next
Every question mark knows the right way to ask
And every ellipsis slows me down when I begin to think too fast
I use these words to make my points razor sharp.
Yet, I know even a dull knife can still hurt someone.
I'm Not In Love Yet.
The inspiration behind this piece comes from a ritual that I implemented in my morning routine. Every morning, before responding to any texts or e-mails, I give my Mom a call. Usually, these calls last no longer than 10-15 minutes. I like to just check-in and see what she's up to and to always remind her to drink water. Moms never drink enough water. So, I ended up with this poem after imagining a very particular morning conversation.
Oh, and I took it to an open mic and performed in front of an audience for the first time...
“Black Is” is a slam poetry piece that focuses on the frustrations of being a young, black man in the United States.
I scribbled down this poem one afternoon after seeing some discouraging news on Twitter.
Several weeks later, I decided on a whim to submit the piece to my university’s production of Me Too Monologues – an annual show about identity written, performed, and produced by Duke students. Monologues are submitted anonymously and paired with student actors to perform them. The actor is not told who writes the piece. Out of hundreds of submissions (including a different piece I had written), “Black Is” was selected. Thus, my voice secretly became a part of a show performed for hundreds of my peers and faculty.
Black is not
Black is a color
Black is a race
Black is the reason you see me and label me a disgrace
And really there is nothing I can do
Cause black tells lies & black tells the truth
Black is what I am
Black is not what I try to be
Because if I check the web
It still looks like blacks are dying to me
And I ask myself what I’m trying to be
A son? A student? A success? Preferably all three.
Black is the reason I feel love when I leave the barbershop with a fresh cut
Black is not the reason I should ever see a door shut, a quickened strut, or worry in someone else’s gut – and know I caused it without doing anything.
Black is not the color of my skin
You see, I’m really more of a mocha coffee
Black is not why I’m loud
Black is why I had to learn to speak softly.
The Blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
And yet we’re still to blame even when they harvest this strange fruit.
Black is a problem that I’ll have to teach my son to navigate for no fault of his own
But Black is going to make him strong,
make him mature fast, make him real grown.
Make him realize the reason he didn’t receive the loan or his plans were postponed are tied to his skin tone
See even with all that time spent alone, black isn’t going to break him.
See even with all the time that it’ll take him
He’ll hopefully learn that Black is beautiful
And Black isn’t all the same
Yet, we play this game in which we constantly take aim at each other, defame one another, and spread shame to our own brother
I wonder sometimes who’s keeping score...
It blows my mind how people associate black with a particular behavior
Let me take this opportunity now to act as your savior
Black isn’t what music I listen to, a type of shoe, or even a certain hair do.
Yet, these things are written off as ghetto or ratchet, unless a white person decides to try something “new”.
Black is what I am
Black is not ALL I am
So you can put away your box, cops can put away their locks, and you just give a young man his props.
I’ve said my piece and I hope you get it.
All I want is peace and I hope you spread it.
Black is who wrote it & black is who said it.