Yesterday as I sat in the library reading “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by James Baldwin I began to reflect on the role that books have played in my life. Not just any books, but in particular African-American literature. Below is a self-reflective poem that delves into my love,hatred, and passion for the written word.
I tried to confine myself to the books on the shelves
But even Ralph Ellison didn’t know how invisible I felt
My hell couldn’t be confined to the spine of paperback novel
My trials and tribulations couldn’t be mitigated by a bottle
I read so much that the papercuts began to encapsulate my hands
As the plasma painted my pages a rusty colored red
I longed to tell the truth like Atticus Finch
But it seemed as if my mockingbird was bound to get lynched
My life’s oddysey is no greek epic
Nor is it a full out tragedy
Although plenty times I felt like Othello from the World backstabbing me
My books became my refuge
As the deluge of criticisms began to destroy mental levees
I used sandbags of hope provided the Audacity of Hope
Cornel West protected me with Hope on a rope
Turning pages was like smoking dope
I became a junkie to the written word
Because life in the human realm no longer made sense
Books made me feel beloved
Even when I was the pariah of the public
I was still accepted into this rich community of people
Toni Morrison, James, Baldwin Nikki Giovani
Alice Walker, Alex Haley never failed me.
Even when my skies were grey Celie painted them purple
Even when they called me white, Richard Wright told me that I was a black boy and a native son.
Langston Hughes reminded me not to be a raisin the sun.
I flip, flip, flip, flip, Flip pages till I flip out
I become one with the text to the point that I’m having sex with vowels and the consonants.
Somebody get me off of this continent I just want to live in words.
Books make me feel regal and it shields me from the evil
But when your young and educated public opinion is lethal
Please don’t inject me with the world’s needle.