Manifesto For My Soul

by Jamie Walker

(For Angela, Sonia Sanchez and
all of the daughters of the revolution
who gave me back my own voice and song)

where has all of my resistance gone
my intuition sits in shit
fears to act and take a stand
cry out, “Lord, have mercy
on me! Save my warring soul
from these senseless attacks,
the fear of the Other
which, in truth, is within.”

i cower in front of tall
people who consume my little
space when i once stood pronounced
in the sun
my head held upright
and strong, my voice echoing
the sounds
of my fearless and undaunted
ancestors, Words emblazoned
on my own tongue,
Words drenched in afro-
centricity that i once tried
on for size
so that i might shout
from the mountaintops
and no longer be mute.

i was once a great queen
who healed many nations
and egypt suckled at my breasts
while i leaned back
on an ancient tradition
watched it get bottled up and
sold as religion
my roots are now bondaged
and buried in chains.

i once sat atop
a formidable rock
near the sea of galilee
it was there
that jesus stood beside me
preaching in a foreign tongue
because i forgot to re-member
my own jungle songs
how i journeyed across the atlantic
and sometimes wept in exile
while my heart sang the blues
sent discarded love-notes, prayers about freedom,
eternal peace, a home that never hugged me,
and men no longer touching me
to the woman in the moon

and i was improvisin’ man
sashayin’ my sweet brown sugar hips
as me and coltrane
took a stroll up-town,
to the sweet jazz-muse
croonin’ in my ear
for more sound
more words
more meaning
more life…

but now i no longer re-act
the dance and vigor of my youth
no longer can be heard
in the night
i have become camouflaged
against the backdrop
of my own slow (irrevocable) death
drowned in a sea of normalcy and all things sane.

i have collected
seeds of self-hatred (ambivalence and doubt)
from Unknown sources
who stole my legacy
and pushed me further
into me, into rap, black studies,
and Higher (states of) consciousness.

and the teachers
they all came because
i was ready
for a brand-new truth
me being yesterday’s militant youth
tomorrow’s immaculate future
and today’s present lies.

i remember when i ran from love
cuz i was afraid i was gonna die
take a detour off course
with the wrong woman or guy
and for-get this mission
this call
to live and speak truth
to the people.

i remember mama’s words
being so harsh and lethal,
sayin’ i can’t wear shirts
‘bout bein’ black and proud
and how white people
like me
can’t go with her
to the family reunion.

and oh, how all of those
Words got tangled on my tongue
sent the fierce nerve-beast
to wrestle in my gut
me RSVP’ing on death’s invitation
and bleeding
on the inside part
because someone pierced my heart
and beckoned me
to finally

Manifesto For My Soul by Jamie Walker

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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