Come celebrate come celebrate that everyday
that everyday something has tried something has tried
to kill me to kill me
& has failed
& has failed
Oh something has tried
I invoke you—
Let’s gather in poem & lay to rest
those we’ve lost to violence. Their souls are rest-
less, so I give these borrowed words
as libation so they may drink
A thing crafted in love & may we also be quenched of our unrest.
Picture a woman full of alive —
picture a black woman so full of alive
we abandon the streets and come to a halting rest.
Every dream begins
with a dreamer …begins with a black
woman who lays to rest in her apartment and wakes
up the next morning.
Picture her picturing herself
picture her picturing a daughter picture her daughtering history
Harriet, Sojourner, Phyllis, Toni—
& all the rest & all the rest.
What to do with the knowledge that our living is not guaranteed?
What to do with all this life & its touching of death?
What to do until we can all meet again in the kingdom of touching?
grief and it left me a bruise that turned
first from red to purple to brown but I must heal Oh I must
Can somebody please sing me a black girl’s song?
this is for colored girls who’ve had the holiness
of their breaths released from their bodies.
this is for a colored girlsomebody’s walked off with all of her stuff
yes all her poem and all her dance all her breathing stuff all her breathing
this is for colored girls waiting at the end of the rainbow
how do we reach for them?
Today we sing a song of sorrow.
We open the waterwater.
Waving forever. We are alive forever. Even in death we are
Sister Nicole— Sit us in our skins & let us wait for our names to be called by that sea of god-voices
Pull us from this never ending eulogy and place us on your tongue & if you can
speak us to life speak life to us…
Sister June — gather our leavings & sit with us on a stoop in Harlem
Tell us words & we will echo:
I am not wrong I am not wrong
is not my name wrong is not my name is my own is my own
is Breonna, is Toyin, is Atatiana, is Sandra, is Mya, is Alexia, is Miriam, is Gabriella, is Shantel, Venus, Malissa, LaTanya, Sharmel, Kendra, Shelley, Margaret, Eleanor, Kathryn, Alberta, Danette, Frankie, Tanisha, Michelle, Pearlie, Sonya, Kayla, Shereese, Tyisha, Shaneque, Kyam, Shalby, Gisberta, Rekia, Aiyanna, Tarika, Carla, Meagan, Janisha, Aura, Yvette, Duanna, Nizah, Charleena, India, Meagan, Janisha, Natasha, Renisha, Shelly, Shulena, Alesia, Shereese, Kendra, LaTanya, Danette, Sonji, Teena, Amanda, Gwen, Nireah, Janice & all the rest & all…
Voices: Sister Lucille Clifton from the poems won’t you celebrate with me and blessing the boats
Sister Ntozake Shange from the choreo-poem “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf”
Sister Sonia Sanchez from the poem Haiku and Tanka for Harriet Tubman
Sister Aracelis Girmay from the poem Elegy
Sister Nicole Sealey from the poem Even the Gods
Sister June Jordan from the poem Poem about My Rights