Finally I Speak my Mind

This poem was partially inspired by “ Still I Rise ” by Maya Angelou, particularly in the “still I rise” anaphora. I understand that her poem is about being a woman of color, and I acknowledge the weight of where that comes from in terms of increased marginalization. To clarify, I identify with her words as a woman and don’t intend to overstep. I am open to feedback of course, and I highly recommend that everyone read her poem. This piece was originally published in  Herstory Magazine.

This poem was partially inspired by “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, particularly in the “still I rise” anaphora. I understand that her poem is about being a woman of color, and I acknowledge the weight of where that comes from in terms of increased marginalization. To clarify, I identify with her words as a woman and don’t intend to overstep. I am open to feedback of course, and I highly recommend that everyone read her poem. This piece was originally published in Herstory Magazine.

Like dominos

We fall in rows

From the weight of your feigned ignorance.

Latest in a line of plunders 

You leave me singed at the end of your cigarette

Better yet, expelled in a drop of sweat 

Drip-drip

Where I lay on the bed.  


From your averted eyes

I can see you could do with or without me

And I’m tempted to say fuck you

I sputter and spew

Cough up a raspy whisper

That “I still care about you”

My butterfly flutters, 

One wing in the dirt.

I can spot your insecurities from a mile away,

And I sympathize

But, at the end of the night, I am the only one who cries.

Despite all this fuckery, I want you to stay

...I’ll downplay,

These sentiments tend to decay 

As they attempt to escape my airways.

No Pythagoras,

You consume my flesh.

Leaving not a bead of blood,

And glance away

More interested in

An ant crawling on your knuckle, 

Or the time—3 o’clock 

Oh, how punk rock.

So I am not the thing of your poetry—

Still I rise.

Can’t extinguish the fire from these eyes

Built an empire on rubble and shit,

By the power of my legs

I withstand the hit.

Everyday I feel that

Men test me,

Hiss, “impress me”

Convinced that history represents me

Or that I’m just an “angry bitch”

Victim of generational self-violence 

No morals, you a nihilist

So you think that I’m weak,

Which makes me ripe for the picking

Mmm finger-licking!

A time bomb ticking.

Truth is, you can’t relate me to him, to her

To that, to them

I expose your emotional complex

From which comparison extends.


Take me

Break me

Rape me

Exploit my body and mind

Blow smoke in my eyes,

Still I rise.


From the underbelly of society,

Do my words come as a surprise?


I mean, it’s evident that I am irrelevant in this hierarchy

So it seems my only option is to speak my mind, finally

Or forever hold my peace.

I rise from this structure that dictates my value

Paid less, “you should be weightless”

Like I have some supernatural control over my metabolic process

You want me reduced to too fragile to defend myself, yes?

Vandalize my perception,

But can’t steal identity from me

His hand on my knee,

It was my favorite summer dress.

Still I rise from this mess.

Pussy power,

I exceed “woman of the hour”

Beyond the limits of your watch, 

Outdid linear time when I shot from that rock.

Can you truly you be tarnished by touch?

Grade-school taught me that much—

Not to unfurl my flower, 

Remembered this when I heard her weeping in the shower, 

Freshmen year, ghetto tower.

Nah, fuck that

You deem me too sour

Just cuz I turn my head when you call to me in the street?

Or say I won’t be vulnerable cuz it makes me feel weak?

Put yourself in my place, and experience what it means

To wear no butcher paper on a market for meat.

Hold up—

I exhale mist from the sea

Dissolving under the Bodhi tree

Take refuge in spirituality

Sip from this Kool-Aid cup,

It runneth over with muck

Only safe in the wild

What a paradox, huh?

You crushed some foliage with your 4x4 truck,

That’s enough.

Now do you understand why this matters to me?

Your desire is relative, cuz I’ll never be free

Our interaction is a microcosm 

Of a culture

That capitalizes on a woman’s body

Utilitarian, mass-consumption

Use my resources till I run dry,

Then toss me in a landfill

I rise, still.


From primordial waters I rise

Catalyzing creation 

We once held the universe curled into a seashell

Does that story ring a bell?

No longer recognize the womb from which you fell?


I rise, no compromise

Look at these thighs 

Sizeable

Use ‘em to stamp the venom from your jagged smile

And shake this paradigm till it’s unrecognizable.


Scars no more on these wrists

Look at this!

I raise my fist

Stare into my eyes

You think I’m just sexy, 

But this confidence is a war cry.

Does it upset you that I hold my head so high?

And dance like I got diamonds ‘tween my thighs?

Still don’t understand?

I won’t apologize.

I fantasize

To disturb what idle eyes idealize.

Denial got you paralyzed, I know.

And through it all,

Still I rise.