i am awake

wide eyed sure

aware here inside

conscious looking

out from knowing

no rose colored glasses

clear unafraid clear

sure here present in this

moment with real wounds

transformed into badges of honor

debts paid in charge of deciding

where the line is and who can

cross over owning my want

suffering anger and hope

memories of wars won wars

lost the cost of all born warrior

no separation from my shield or

the swords that cut both ways

always fit for battle

all battles are not fit

to be fought some are to

be understood others

to fit you for bigger battles

some to bleed you of intention

never bleed without gaining ground

there is no romance is suffering

search not for glory in struggle

the cost of owning want is heavy

as is struggling not to want

choose your battles

I have learned

to see farther down the road than

looking like the distance between hearing

understanding and pushing back

the wind knows when not to blow

when to be a hurricane

when to push the water over

the shore when to fan the fire

I am unseparated from my knowing

collard greens  buttermilk cornbread

sweet potato if you lucky

someone else’s land house school city

country dream freedom justice wealth

progress forward manifestation of destiny

poverty smells like fried chicken in

small rooms with windows painted

shut no gardens liquor stores 3 strikes

eviction profiling jail cells

drug addiction too small shoes the

word no and dried blood

I understand the way words flip

flop like dead fish playing possum

while painting reality sometimes

using the N visible crayon

singing colorblind anthems

broadcast onto reality

making it hard to under

stand really real hard to

separate it from the mesmerizing

bitty bopp spit by the system

humming while you dream

working while you pray

eating your shadow until

you are not sure if you

are real anymore

I am here

eyes wide

understanding beyond hearing

like the distance between knowing

& pushing back

I am here

seeing beyond looking

deciding to understand

unafraid to choosing

the path that leads me

closer to home

to remember

to own the want


About Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD

I create; therefore I am.
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