For “Nikki”… by hakim bellamy
I feel like you’ve always been mine
though you’ve been proclaiming emancipation since before
since before we was slave or citizen
since we was love and laughter and light
we don’t own each other no mo’
some stopped saving one another too
have turned borders into water
language into papers
death into understanding
and day-to-day into magic
does being a sHE-RO ever get old?
or just old-fashioned?
Some people want to be like you when they grow up
I want to be like you NOW
Edward, son of Edward Frederick, they call me Hakim
Yolande Cornelia Jr.
they call you Nikki
third sign of the Zodiac
they call us talkers
we come from East Coast and Appalachia
Philadelphia to Tennessee and Black
back and forth
blonde and ‘fro
we come from Black People
Black Churches and Black-Eyed Peas, sista
poets and not quite poets
if you ask Ivory Tower
instead of Ivory Coast,
but who asked them anyway?
for the record,
I too, prefer my wine…red
When I heard the news
I thought of you
I had a few friends that went to Virginia Tech
none at that time
at that time
you were the only person I knew, but did not know
that went there
I think about the sanctuary of the sentence
where we sometimes hide
sometimes say come and get me
I think about how schoolhouses
ain’t never been safe in the South
I think about how everywhere is the South
and though hip hop is the new underground
your words have always been a railroad
WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH
Do you ever get tired of fighting fire with paper?
this many books in,
do you still feel like people misread you?
will you figure out a way
to bottle “relevance” and sell it to the next generation of Giovanni’s?
will you blueprint your survival of America,
cancer and Black womanhood…
or is it already embedded in the hieroglyphs
of your “codexes”
do your codices, code exist?
how do you commit our existence to script
with such vivid depiction?
and I know you been chasing her
like an old game of tag
maybe even laid an index finger on her once
but next time you get close enough to Utopia
close enough to smell her hair
you tell her I am looking for her…please
They will call you distinguished, Professor
activist, human or civil
they will call you an American writer
or an African American writer
a great poet
or a great Black poet
when you are both
but a wise person once said,
“Once you know who you are,
you don’t have to worry anymore.”
© Hakim Bellamy November 2, 2013
The above poem was written for and delivered to Dr. Nikki Giovanni at her Chasing Utopia book tour stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Read my Local iQ review of her new book here.