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
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
These sentiments tend to decay
As they attempt to escape my airways.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
Use my resources till I run dry,
Then toss me in a landfill
I rise, still.
From primordial waters I rise
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
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.
To disturb what idle eyes idealize.
Denial got you paralyzed, I know.
And through it all,
Still I rise.