Stepping Up to the Plate (Poem)

(I wrote another piece for Black History Month in my church’s newsletter—you can follow us here: Safe Haven Newsletter. I hope it touches all those who read it and possibly inspire each of us to step up to the plate.)

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

I am not an activist
I notice social injustices
But
I did not ask for this
I didn’t ask to be the poster child
For civil rights
And equality
Yet
I feel as though it has been given
–to me
Automatically
Through birth
Like some sort of
Birthmark
Call it a birthright

But I keep thinking to myself
I didn’t ask for this
My attitude of dissonance
Is reflected in my actions
And my lifestyle
It’s all in the way I live
That’s why I keep my distance
I speak up for my people
I shout it loud
Say it proud
All over social media
Put me in the public eye
And I’m more hush than a
Whisper
I whisper as I whimper
About how I thought it all ended
With King’s speech about a dream
When they removed the colored
—only fountains,
Restrooms and schools
I can walk into
Unsegregated places
Isn’t that enough?
I find myself groaning
Then coming back to the issues
—at hand
Wondering
Who said I had to join the march?
We’ve already marched enough
Have we not?
Who says I have to get on the
Front lines?
What’s wrong
With fighting on the sidelines?

I stare down at my pen and paper

They tell me
Some of my own people
They tell me
That the arts are futile
They’re useless
Strictly entertainment
Therefore I haven’t done anything
Of significance

I used to think
Of my ink
As my picket sign
Spoken word
As my bullhorn
But now
I ponder
If all I am really doing
Is finding another way
To quiver behind my scribbles
I scribble, dibble and dab
Ooo-watch me make ’em mad
Behind stanzas
But I am still just a prisoner
Of my own fear to stand up
Among the many?

I recognize
I am
One of many and I represent
The living and the dead
The hopeful and the hopeless
Those
Who fight for change
And those who have become
Apathetic
I used to be apathetic to those names
Then the statistic became a person
That number had a face attached to it

Now I’m left here
As tears stain my face
Saying over
And over to myself
The same thing
My now deceased friend
Probably felt

I didn’t ask for this
I’m not a revolutionary
Not by any stretch of the imagination
But
Neither were any of my ancestors
Each of them
Were ordinary people
Nothing extraordinary
About them
Except the things that they did
To combat unjust practices

I see it
I see the light
It’s all so clear now
None of us asked for this
But it is what it is
The war was never over
Just because emancipation
Brought about a cease fire
Doesn’t mean a new strategy
Hasn’t been in the works

It hurts
But it hurts even more
To stand back
Do nothing
And pretend
As though everything is absolutely
Perfect
The way it is

Remember the Mission (Poem)

(I was reading through some old poems I wrote and decided I would share this one. I wrote it about a year ago and I did a little editing to it. I am not bringing back Cleaning Out the Attic…yet. I just wanted to share a couple of poems on the blog—here’s the first one:)

REMEMBER THE MISSION

I thought to myself today,
I wonder what would happen
If the believers on my campus
Would align with others
On another—
Like Grambling?
What if we had an event
To pull us all together,
Would they come out?
But it was quickly dismissed
By a voice that whispered,
“There aren’t any Christians at
–Grambling!”

And I found myself
Sinking into this comfortable place
But not so comfortable zone
Where I began to agree
Feeling as though the only believers
Known to exist
Solely live within my city limits

But see,
You have to be careful
Because when you take on that
–mindset
You’ll find yourself
Shrinking down the area of where
–other believers live
To the point where
You think the lone followers of Christ
Don’t go past the four walls of
–your house

You are not the only one
Because God could not find one
And it took One
His only begotten Son
To redeem us all
You are not the only one

But we like to think we are

We come together in fellowship
For so many other things
Sporting events
Anniversaries
Birthdays
House parties
Parties just to party parties

Yet when it comes time to show
–support in God’s house
We are missing in action
Suddenly we become choosy
In which ones we seek to go to
I know we can’t make them all
But
Shouldn’t we at least make an
–effort
To show our faces,
If not but for a brief instant?

I remember
Standing there and looking out
Into a nearly desolate room
I had gone to poetry events
That were standing room only
Yet I had never seen a place
So bleak
So empty
And I kept thinking,
Lord,
Surely—
Surely they could’ve came tonight
They could at least come
One time

Until finally,
God showed me I missed the point
Entirely

“Those who come,
Let them come,” He said,
“and pour into them faithfully.
Those who showed up
Needed to be there
Versus those
Who appear for the sake of saying
–they did.
Who come with no expectancy
Of anything
Other than to take notes and report
–back
Of the who, what, where, why
And occasionally
The how.”

Jesus had a point
And as He’s opened up my eyes
He began to press on me,

“If the kings and queens won’t
–attend,
If the royals won’t accept the invitation,
Then go and get the beggars.
Go out into the streets,
Outside of those palaces
And ivory towers laced with gold.
Search in the alleyways,
The landfills,
The dumpsters,
The hoods and the ghettos.
Go and find the harlots,
Go and get the murderers,
The whoremongers,
The outcasts and scourging.
Go and gather
All the rejected and least desirable
–of them;
Welcome them to My table,
This feast I have prepared,
Let them come and be more appreciative
–of what has been set.”

And yet,
I found myself reluctant
Unwilling to approach them
I want to be like Jesus
But I don’t want to be just like Jesus
I rather hang with the church folk
And sometimesy Christians
Than to model my Savior
Who sat and ate with sinners
Never mind the fact
That, I, too was a sinner
And He came and greeted me
When no one in the church would
–even speak to me
When those same church folks I
–now favor
Slung rocks
Out of their self-righteous sling shots

God, forgive me…

I hang my head in shame
As I still manage to back away
But He only continues to press on me,
“Go beyond your walls, Daughter.
Reach out to your community,”
Yet I find myself saying, no
They’ll never listen to me
I begin to make excuses
Like:

They are saved—they would never
–come
They say they love Jesus, but they
–ain’t really talkin’ bout it
I mean, I could try and put that on
But no one would even show up
Face it—there aren’t any real saints
Anywhere
They’re all just pretending

I hadn’t stop to consider
In those group of pretenders
I would also be included
How can I say I love Him
But won’t love as He loves?
How can I say I want to follow after
–Him
But I won’t serve Him
Nor submit to His will and His way?

We make such a mess of things
By thinking more of ourselves than
–what we are
“You are not the only believer,”
This is what my Father in heaven tells
–me,
“And if they will not come
Then let all those who desire
Come and fellowship with Me.
Let them come into the house
As they are.
Minister to those who I have sent
–before your presence
And have been drawn unto My light.
Do not send them away
For I personally have extended the
–invitation
To all,
But only those who accept
Shall dine with Me forever.
Be hospitable,
Show them mercy,
For with tender loving kindness
–have I drawn thee.
Go out, show mercy,
Have compassion
As you pursue this thing you call
Your passion.
Be grateful
And extend the grace I have given
–you.”

There are more believers
Than just the ones at Prairie View A&M
–University
Beyond Prairie View
And Waller County
But there are also those
Who are the forgotten
And them, too, must I also bring

If royalty will not sit with The King
Then I shall gather those
Who have not yet claimed their
–inheritance
Who have no idea who their Father
–is
Who are waiting
To be adopted by Him

We are not the only ones
We must leave our familiar circles
Doing as God has called
So that through our willingness
He may draw
ALL men
And so when that day comes
We may all glory together
In eternal peace

And what a beautiful sight that
–will be

More beautiful than crowds
No, oceans
Of people
Praising and worshipping as one
More beautiful than brothers and
–sisters of every race
Fellowshipping with one another
And seeing each other
As family
Having the uncanny ability
To spiritually sense a connection
–to someone
A connection one feels to a close
–relative or sibling
While not having known them
Personally
Simply because we all worship the
–same God

That day will be so grand
And majestic
There are no words to describe
How wonderful it will be
Neither how glorious a day it shall
–be for us all
And why would we want people
–to be there for that?
Why would we want others to attend
That event?

I’m beginning to find out
It is better to do what God has placed
–on your heart
And have Him be pleased with you
Rather than measure its success
–in comparison
To those who have done it before you
And twice as long
Just because they’ve done it longer
Doesn’t mean
They haven’t been doing it wrong
And perhaps
Just maybe
It wasn’t as successful as it seemed
On the surface
Maybe the focus was missed

Dear Black History (Poem)

I wrote this poem for my church’s newsletter and I wanted to post it up on my personal blog (you can read the Safe Haven, which I also write, here: shnewsletter.wordpress.com):

DEAR BLACK HISTORY

Dear Black History,

I’m sorry

I’m sorry for never taking the time
–to learn about you
For ignorantly thinking
They would let you into our schools
And then when they removed the few
–traces of you we had
From our textbooks
I complained about it
But still
I chose not to speak up because let’s
–be honest
I wasn’t reading any of that stuff
Anyhow

Dear Black History,

I apologize

I beg your forgiveness
For neglecting you
I went from looking forward to
–something
Other than Valentine’s Day
To having you become
A mere afterthought
As I hear myself say,
“Oh yeah…
It is our month, huh?”

Dear Black History,

Pardon me, I beg you, please

I am so self-righteous
In all my false claiming
Proclaiming to be such an advocate
–for the preservation
Of your memory
Your essence
But it’s all so pretentious
I’m dilettante
And it’s obvious
Because I don’t even bother to go
–and research for new material
I just stick to those faithful few
Those few that get people to
–stirring
Rosa, Maya, MLK, Malcomb…
You know,
The usual
And still
I don’t give the people something
They didn’t already know
I just regurgitate, reword
Plagiarize and replay
While I try to make myself look very
–well-studied in the ways
Of who you are
When in reality
I still don’t know you

Dear Black History,

I am ashamed
And I am guilty of thinking
That just because of my skin’s
–pigment and hue
That this
Is enough
I look in the mirror
And I tell myself, “That’ll do,”

I hear my peers
And become enraged
When they dismissively say things
Disrespecting you
While dissing you
Still upholding the status quo
The stereotype
But all I can be is silent
Because I am a victim of my own
Stupidity
Stupidly
I say you are important
And yet I have pushed you aside
All the while wondering
As they slowly erase you away,
As we do things
That make your creators
Roll in their graves,
God, I say, God
What on earth
Will I pass on down to my children?
What shall I be able to give them
If anything?

So to you, Black History,
I am sorely grieved by my offenses
–toward you
And I am sorry
For my cowardice
My willingness to stay in the dark
My failure to keep you alive

And yet
You are still living

So to you I promise
I will take the time
To learn of you
Going beyond those standard pioneers
And discovering those figures
Great and small
I’ve never heard of before
In every field

Because I say it matters
And it does
Black History, you do matter
And your beauty runs through me
It is in fact
Skin deep
Therefore to reject you,
Is to reject myself

I yearn to go beyond the surface
Of settling for the only history I know
Stopping at my epidermis

Dear Black History,

You deserve better

What’s New and All That Jazz…

First thing: after coming back home I talked to my pastor about becoming more involved with the church and I decided to bring back our online newsletter. The first issue of the 6th volume is up now on here: Safe Haven Newsletter so be sure to check it out if you get a chance…

…and follow and share, of course. A new issue comes out every Friday at 3PM (for anyone interested in writing for Safe Haven or would like to have their artwork showcased–whether it’s a poem or painting–email: templeofr@hotmail.com and I can send you the specifics.)

Second thing: I’ve gone back to the drawing board with my book. To be honest, I was not obedient the first time around, so now I’m having to go back and make changes. One change is that it’ll be increased from 50 pages to 150-200 pages (currently adding and editing now.) Another change will be the format. This “extended” version, so to speak, will be only available as a physical copy. As soon as it’s finished and the Lord gives me the go ahead (rather than me rushing to print) then I will let you all know immediately when I can start taking orders.

I promise this time. Like for real, for real.

As of now, that’s pretty much it. I’ll still be posting up poems on here from time to time. I’m thinking about bring back “Cleaning Out the Attic” but we’ll see how that goes…

Oh—one more thing…

I’ve brought back poetry nights to our church, but I’ve changed the format. I changed the name to “The Remedy” and it will be a talent showcase, since it’s geared towards encouraging artists besides poets to come up (singers, dancers, musicians.) Our first night will be February 28, 5PM. If you are in the Prairie View (Texas) area then don’t be shy—come on in the Temple of Refuge and join us.

Oh…and my pastor is running to become Prairie View’s new mayor. Can’t forget about that.

Until next time folks… #StayTuned