The Long Distance Runner



I never was a sprinter-

perhaps I wanted to be

bleached concrete

& bright lights

smelling of broken dreams

called to me since age three.

But higher powers had a plan for me-

ancestors whispering

walk with great faith to your fate

that’s your destiny.

See me-

I’m a long distance runner

built to go the distance

not so much for speed.

The sleeper,

natural late-blooming prodigy-

eyes intently set on eternities,

time has no meaning to me.

Who measures oceans-

when their destiny

is to flow into

them like seas?

Thunder does not fear lightening.

I have come to Rumi’s garden &

lingered to stroll beyond it

to his open field.

I am a long distance runner.

I have sat at the feet of my Baba


as North ‘Merikan Afrikans

consumed by coerced evolution

studied revolutions in

China, Cuba & Bolivia

as windows once open shattered

as doors slammed shut.

I have witnessed the fall of

Camelot, a King and a shining Prince

as Panther’s roared but were snared

in nappy nets as sons set

before fully rising.

I am a long distance runner-

blood of conquering conjurers

Hannibal & Queen Nzinga.

I walk a path worn smooth by

the makers of a way out of no way-

All say Ashe to the path makers

guardians of the seasons,

sunrise, birth & death,

keepers of eternities,

wind keepers, rainmakers

the line that winds back to

the beginning of time-

I am without beginning or end.

I am built to go the distance-

not so much for speed.

Time has little meaning-

When you are looking at the sky

it has no end-

just places you can’t see.

Time is a silk thread

on which I am a bead

strung in a succession

of beautiful beads

each a life,

a world,

hanging from the neck

of the Godz true love.

Multiple verses in a sonnet

being re-membered by the multi-verse.

I remember when there were

no astronomers only

Dog Star people who

re-membered the invisible.

In memory of them

I resurrect no mo

speaking invisible

to visible to unite those

dispersed like chafe

seeding a Diaspora

without a tongue.

Thank the Godz for drums-

beating the time of hearts

un-captured waiting time

our feet learned to speak

the unspeakable

dancing on oppression

we are dangerous

daring to be us

when in rhythm.

Long distance runner

driven by vision-

I re-member dancers

-warriors dipping fluid frames

breaking time as shields clash

with dreams as alien as the dreamers-

the builders of fences,

turning fire works into guns,

trafficking cocaine, opium & rum,

sickness, madness & death

since they come,

dividing and poisoning

under one flag

cross bones & currency,

pale-eyed true believers

with a long view-

time has no meaning

to script writers unfurling

distortions of reality in 3D,

see, believe, & follow or

be the vibration of the drum

watch the horizon for that

long distance runner

oblivious to time

constant as the tide

in possession of persistence

built to go the distance

not so much for speed.

Done gone digital

mega global

maximizing the local

counting strands of resistance

numbered like stars in

countless constellations.

Long distance runner dreams

one struggle, one nation,

ever forward

cross borders,

many tongues

new dances,

air broken by

militant fists

and a million lips

proclaim their

disdain of denials

de-conjuring the constraints

not asking

taking reparations

agents of change,

cyber drums

aligned in the chaos

flash micro-revolutions

fade the ever evolution

may the way makers will be done.

All say,

no band aids just solutions.

An eye on the prize

kind a ride

push the pendulum

with every stride

creating the vortex

we travel in

the eye of the whirlwind

running viral across airwaves

invisible – tremble,

if we become indivisible.

I re-member when

music was invisible,

crossing Jordan

charting by the North Star

movement got us this far

swing down chariot

dreams of ‘Trane still wanna

ride in memory of Miles &

Pullman porters & losses

to other folks wars.

We still water-

running through the blues

marching the gospel of loco-motives

we got dreams of distance

and different circumstance

growing from blood stained trees.

We got funk soaked aspirations &

realities carved at the high cost

of constant resistance.

Who can be well in sickness?

Much time fighting

need more time building

new dances

got to stay

limber in this limbo

of post colonial smelting

in this pot of post racism.

Form a second line

and fearlessly cheer

without fear of time

that has always had its own mind

in a world that has forever been

full of clear & present danger.

Second time for a second wind

you can savor the journey

if you are sure of the inheritance

new music

the constancy of drummers drumming

and long distance runners

that come to run…

A. Nzinga


Originally published: March 9, 2011 edited 1/18/16

Also published in the Journal of Black Poetry