I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: AUSTIN international poetry festival


After Nikki Giovanni’s Lecture at the 2015 Austin International Poetry Festival

If you’re black or brown
in America and the police kill you,
a narrative is already written.
Character premonition.
The word accident
is no accident.
Pay attention to diction.
Headlines are stupid.
Everyone knows what happens.
If it bleeds, it leads.
Everyone knows who’s bleeding.
What are you doing to do?
Indifference is a bad decision.

You are going to die.
But under what circumstances?

Maybe the bones inside
every black and brown body
are all made of sugar
and the wrong people
have a sweet tooth
the wrong people
want cotton candy
bur the sugar does not belong to them
the wrong people
keep eating cotton candy
in the rain because it is so easy
to waste a body made of sugar
when all it is ever does
is rain.



You read a poem
And a woman says
Thank you.

You finish your set, covered in sweat,
and a man praises the rhythm
in your voice, says he could the hear
movement, feel the intention,
Says he could see
the craft behind all this
assures you someone is always
paying attention.

A mother comes to you,
her voice is quiet but nurturing,
tells you about the sweet
sensitivity between each word you say,
how when you said how you felt,
beauty was all she could see
and you are buried by
The sincerity.

Before you, an audience
who has come here to hear
the stories you have to tell.

Someone asks to buy your poem
but none of this has ever been
about profit.

You were sixteen and sad
and a journal was all you had.

You were seventeen and sad
and a voice was all you had.

You were eighteen and sad
and the language had one purpose:
To Fix.
Then you step on a stage
and everyone knows your name.
You can’t keep your thoughts
to yourself, but everyone
still listens.

How lucky are you?

At this point,
You are twenty three and happy to announce
after the poems are read,
and the poets have left,
and all the audience believes
in poetry again,
you still have to stop and breathe it all in
you still have to hug every poet
because you could not be here without
them, because this is your community,
and when will your life ever be this meaningful?
this true?

Even when the poets have gone
love is the last word in the room.