Nikki Giovanni


i am in a box
on a tight string
subject to pop
without notice

everybody says how strong
i am

only black women
and white men
are truly free
they say

it's not difficult to see
how stupid they are

i would not reject
my strength
though its source
is not choice
but responsibility

i would not reject my light
though my wrinkles are also illuminated

something within demands
or words
if action is not possible

i am tired
of being boxed
muhammad ali must surely be pleased
that leon spinks relieved him

most of the time
i can't breathe
i smoke to much
to cover my fears
sometimes I pick
my nose to avoid
the breath I need

i also do the same
injustice to my poems

i write because
i have to