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I am a black poet

I claim Nikki Giovanni
4 albums, gospel choirs,
ego-tripping all

Out of the night
that covers me…

I claim the church
black and white
Holy Ghost and Methodist

I’ve got to claim
The Bible

And Psalms

And Revelations

I claim the music
Jesus and Porgy

I claim Sunday
And all the mornings
that come

I claim the drummers
And the singers
The rhythm setters
And the beat keepers

The footstompers
And the handclappers

The signifiers
And the silent criers

Both my grandmothers
And my mother

And Miss Hicks and
Miss Ruffin

I claim the Slab Town
Arriving on the Pea Vine Line

I claim Paul Robeson

And James Weldon Johnson

I claim Paul Lawrence Dunbar
I claim Langston Hughes

I claim Maya
And Gwendolyn
And Lucille
And Sonia

I’m claiming the fact
And the fiction

I’m claiming
The Color Purple
This Blue Body
And the Bluest Eye

The two Toni’s
And the two Walkers

For My People, Everywhere

Nina Simone

‘Cause they all
Made me come in
From the void

Into the universe of hues
Into the dreamed whirl

I’ve got to claim
The heavens

I’ve got to claim
The trees

The maples and the oaks
The spreading chestnut
The weeping willow


Oh my, water
Magic elixir


No way one could begin to name
The flock the feather

And light

And hate

And love

I claim love