This is our power

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An excerpt from the chapter ‘Voices of Respect’ in Maya Angelou’s Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.

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Boiling blood

Your head is heavy with a dull pain. You let it peak and build and push and press until it pops and runs off with all the anger you’ve been holding hostage. Holding it not to control it or massage it into submission, but rather just to let it be there in a quiet circulation of bloodless comfort. You hold it silent. Choice seems futile.

Words pour out from wherever they’re created in your brain, like arrows they aim at their target – and miss. You hold your silence. You hold your ransom. Imprisonment is a partnership; any power here is blind and blunt and it’s beating has your head heavy with a dull pain.

Sanity, solitude and self

To escape the pressure of his thoughts his words rolled down her legs and left her with a feeling of none, and a year of deliberate solitude.

But our desires have always been our truths and so their places as road-safe, happy wanderers were secure. Signs along the way confuse them so she goes where she is, sometimes finding his words but mostly she finds a feeling of none.

Unnamed and colourless, she shoves away any feelings she knew before, for an affair with a feeling of none.

Butt is the new black

Put yo ass out

Or you won’t get any cash out

But if you’re the new cat

Put some of that back

We don’t wanna see all your blue black

Unless you’re doing that

Art for ads or endorsement rap

Getting your cheques and backside stamped

We see you working

For your sons and daughters

Butt is thicker than water

Twerk what you must

The rule of bum is

We’re allowed to love you some

As long as you butt your tongue

Demonstrate how we’re supposed to play dumb

Mum’s the word along with bum

The new black is the bottom

Line – no more harvesting grapes or picking cotton

We’re getting our capital on

Thinking we’ve flipped the butt

But the reality is we’ve gone from being raped

To being publicly fucked

Put yo ass out and you may get some cash out

No butts about it

Let’s not crucify a ‘video hoe’

Over the prostitute we don’t know

The beyonces we adore

The nickis we abhor

Let’s not pass the butt

Before it was taken from us

Now we just give it up

There was bound to be backlash

After our fatigued attacks back

Fighting not to succumb

To centuries of playing numb

Will we even be able to taste

that mouldy old pie?

A body that never lies

My body has never lied to me,

So I trust it explicitly.

This includes the workings of my mind,

Because it is mine

I trust your nature

The body never lies

Even as we subject ourselves

To an unnatural hell –

Wait. What am I telling

You, hell is an imaginary dwelling.

You’ve been there

Or was that a lie

Let us not allow this thievery.

We’re too magnificent to be

Told we’re free and then celebrate as if

We didn’t have the choice to be.

Even as religious creatures

Our bodies never lie

Grieving at our unnatural reality,

Our expectations created to be

Greater than who we are naturally.

We nurture the guilt of the guilty.

Trust your truth

My body’s never lied

Only we can deliver ourselves from

This poorly scripted infatuation.

Reread each line in a dark room on

Your own sometimes. Come.

I trust your nature

You’ve been there

Even as a religious creature

Trust your truth.

Your body never lies

And neither will your mind