with a hand on my heart

i pledge allegiance to step forth
when asked to step down, to hold no flag
to hold this generation tight
make them accountable for apathy
(apathy=death) you see their faces everyday.

to remember the children
lost in the name of false allegiance
i pledge allegiance to anger
letting it blossom into something more than fruit
to eat beautiful.
because i know what it smells like to be spring.

one of the lucky ones, i pledge allegiance
to the human body, still attached
from birth to death. pledging for each one
i said i loved until death do us part
sweet sorrow, i lie parallel to you.
you, my country, have no right to speak
on behalf of the world.

I was inspired after reading Safia Elhillo’s masterful poem, Self-Portrait with No Flag. It comes to mind every morning lately when I need to stand for the pledge with my students from around the world. The hypocrisy is striking in relation to our current domestic and foreign policy objectives. So my loyalty is to the small ones, to the next generation. May we teach them to know their own self-worth, no matter their origin.


What Doesn’t Change

Moving orients as well as disorients. It provides reacquaintance with what you’ve kept hidden in both a physical and metaphysical sense. The objects, these passions of the past, reminisce as settings, complex emotional frameworks.

I found today a reading response journal, a piece of my journey into understanding. Pages and pages of epiphany as I was coming into myself as a young college student and a naïve visionary. I look back on my words in mystery and sorrow. How much passion we lose as life plays games with our resilience.

I want to share a bit from this with thanks to my favorite professor of the past for bringing these insights to the forefront, for opening my world. You guided my journey, wishing, with regret, that I could have done more.


Course: Introduction to African Colonialism
Reading Response Entry 6/16/1999
In Response to Violence, Exploitation and Racism in Africa

Out of all the entries this gave me the greatest pause as it provides relevance for what is happening present day in the United States. More importantly, the professor responds by asking of my responsibility to share my understanding almost as a premonition of what our present day responsibility will be. As a nation, our people are being manipulated to hate and to fear the innocent among us solely for the economic gain of those who could care less about our lives and what the average citizen will suffer as a result of their propaganda machine.

In moving, in movement, we travel with the same understandings and the same responsibilities to speak with our hearts. Reaching out from the mindfulness of 1999 to the people of 2016: reflect, share and act. I, like many, have not said enough.

Remembering Possibility

Fresh opportunity,
you were like an infant
coming from comforted darkness
into an array of wailing fresh light.

Mama has always given herself up
to send you forth
into the harshness of thought,
grow your legs
from the moist clay of the Earth,
open your mouth
to echo the sorrows of visible truth.

When you find this sweet country home,
you will find life, growing up and growing old
in the confines of honest exchange
in the textures of embrace
in the borders regardless of need.
Rests in you is barren forgiveness
in its most eloquent form.

Pity what we have lost to these huddled men
more than our country
progress in its infancy—
recognition of the dark, indignant past
we have ignored for too long.

There is no returning home, or so it seems
when the possibility of one another is lost
this is my nation at war, grappling with its own humanity
silent at a time when people will soon lose their ability to speak.

Teachers Never Give Up

Our communities own pride.
We flower the eyes of growing minds.
We let the wind ride by in broken possibilities.
We climb higher for hope.
He holds his voice inches above small minds
and the words fall, upon each
in magical sparks, igniting wealth.
What is our wealth, ideas—the wisdom rages
like wildfire in the congregation of youth.

Fire on, my people know flames,
we know the heat
we live to extinguish delusions and create warriors of truth.
I will teach you, just as before,
that you are a gift inside this growing world.
The mind is not for sale, not now, not ever.
Child, the oppressors cannot contain your fire.

Confronting Evil

I talk to evil these days because
he feels like a bedfellow, a resident of my dreams
plunder in my eyes for the sunset, the heart
having no where to dig,
but beneath the ground for solace.

Before these days came, before,
when hope was allowed to leave our bodies—
I waited for you on the other side
with little in my hands, naïve I thought
that the hands could give little
and others would follow.

Now we stand irrespective of possessions
face to face with tyrants, all refugees looking for justice’s home.
Be it the howling residents of trees, the muezzins
of our towers calling people to prayer,
the humble congregations
voices of the heart ringing out and rising above the pain.
We now become each other, the shield, the weapon
that will defeat the evil determined to divide us.

Under Water

Pieces. Fragments of emotion that pile together in this state.
Become red. Forget body, want blood.

When I am with those I know, I see ocean in the distance.
Forget understanding. Remember rational thought.

And what is rational is blue reflected in the sky, climbing the wall
and sea level becomes blurred. Flooding. Taking the horizon with it.

For it is fire in the belly making our heads melt.
Now even our children can’t find us near the surface to take our hands.

Without Hesitation

What good has come out of this.
In panic does the opaque become transparent.
Does the humane become a silhouette behind evil.
The conversation of what we know and who we want to be.

I have never been one to stand before judgment.
You have never been one to commit to your ideals.
I have never been one to recognize the truth from the hidden.
You have never been one to say “no more” in the face of disregard.
I have never been one to see the person in the context of his mind
(rather drowning in an ocean of preconceived notions).
You have never said to me arrogance is futile when I know
acceptance of wrong is the path to injustice.

Standing outside of what is talk
I digress.
Rain yourself down with all you can of soft illusions.
I will stand dry, resolved and steady, a beacon of warning before the storm.
Before all who embody truth are gone,
before the voices of freedom are lost to the airwaves.
SPEAK. Silence is not an option.