Tuesday, August 4, 2009

what it seems - original poem

I was taught to enunciate,
taught that it's "Jennifer and I" not "me and Jen"
and that the proper contraction is "isn't" not "ain't."
It was important to my grandmother that I had good diction and spoke well.
I appreciate her efforts because they became part of the story I'm in the world to tell.

My family wanted me to go to private schools.
They weren't elitist.
They didn't think that I or we were any better than the rest.
They just wanted what money could buy
so they pooled theirs together to give me the best.
I thank them.
Those schools taught me that everything is not what it seems.
Those schools and the kids that attended them are more fuel for the fire in my dreams.

Ever since eighteen and my first tattoo,
I've been trying to use the self-inflicted pain and the ink
to wash away the blood left on me by the world's reality.
Now that I've discovered my purpose
and permanently recorded it on my back and my right wrist,
I know that I am yoked to this and bound.
There are too many lives at stake to ever turn back after now.
I’m no longer trying to write love on my body.
I’m writing it on paper and passing the poems around for free.
My life and my skin have become the canvas on which God can tattoo dreams.

One day I looked in the mirror at my relaxed, colored, and perfectly coiffed head.
I decided that authenticity needed to be a way I lived
not just words I said.

I've always been into fashion.
I take pride in the way I look
and people tell me when I look good.
I relish the compliments, but I see vanity as a vice.
It just happens to be one of those easiest to hide behind.

I lost thirty pounds because I wanted my body to fit.
I refused to be limited by too much baggage.

So now I can really stand before you naked,
nothing tightening my tummy,
my hair complete with all its kinks,
a jazz song on my lips that my suburban middle class white choir director taught me how to sing.
And I can honestly say,
What you see is what you get.
Everything about me is a statement
and I know you'll misread it.
So I write to create a subtext for the life you see but don't understand.
I write so you'll have documentation of who I really am
when you see me with my nappy hair and my "ghetto" friends
bumpin' our music too loud
and using vernacular that doesn't seem to make sense.
It will be easy to judge,
easy to call my boyfriend a thug and me a hoodrat,
easy to justify our car getting shot at,
easy to blame it on the streets that made us and the neighborhood,
decide the cops had a reason and it must have been good.

I write so that if I become a casualty
while digging through the gutters trying to wash them clean
you'll know that I did it all intentionally.
The news story failed to show you that things aren't always the way they seem.
I refused to look, talk, act, and be like the main stream
in order to be understood by the ones who really need me.

One must learn the rules before they can be successfully broken.
I learned to use my circumstances to show I'm more than just the token.
I'm an ambassador to the streets from the life they deserve to pursue
and I'm the voice for the silenced to those who still refuse to see the social discrepancy.

Nothing is really what it seems.
Who I am and what I write will prove that you know nothing about the streets.

i can't perform this poem until the things i state have come to pass. i can see this being my staple poem, my personal statement.

this is where i'm going. this is the future of my now.

it's all in the hands of the LORD.

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