Spoken Word: On Being Transgendered by – Lee Mokobe

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for South African poets. They have a way of painting some of the most lurid pictures I have ever seen with only words. Never in my life have I heard of one of as young as Lee Mokobe. He is unparalleled in his skill level and I can definitely learn a thing or two from him. I hope I am fortunate enough to meet him at Brave New Voices next month.

Oncoming traffic is embracing more transgendered children than parents. – Lee Mokobe

Poem: For Boys With Colored Roots

I wanna be an engineer for the army

I want to be a football player in the NFL

I don’t want to be a soccer player

I want to be a soccer champion

And a paleontologist and a firefighter

And an artist like my parents

And while I’m at it, I want to do good for the world

I want to be a songwriter for Disney

I want to be a fashion designer

I just want to paint


These are the dreams of little colored boys

Every now and then, I am blessed to stand in their presence

To watch the twinkle in their eyes

And dimples in their cheeks

As they tell me their dreams

I am in awe when I see how wholly

Their dreams inhabit every crevice of their being.

Sometimes I sit and imagine how sweet their dreams must be

Like Kookaburra in the old gum tree


But then it hits me

Like waves from riptides crashing into cliff sides

That for some of these boys, their dreams will go unfulfilled

My heart sinks like a lead cube to the ocean floor

Because I know that there are places in this world

Where “some” is more than “just a few”

For Jubril, war is a place he calls home

For Peter, it’s the ghetto

And somehow

Even though they both live half a world away from each other

They still manage to be neighbors with Desolation and Hunger

Many others like them take the meandering journey

On the road that leads to  nowhere

They pass through the valleys of fathers who don’t believe ’em

Only to climb the mountains of societies that belittle them

Then hop into a hamster wheel to chase an opportunity

That always feels like it’s one revolution away

Soon enough they’re never sure if they’re running from something

Or running to something

And just like that boys like Jack

Become too afraid to look back

Because they’re too scared that the giants might get ’em

And you know what, sometimes they do

And it’s tomorrow’s headline on the evening news


I wonder why it has to be like this

When another day passes

Another tear shed

Another boy laid to rest in a place that’s not his bed

And  when that happens I wonder where their dreams go


Do they simply disappear

Do they travel with them into the next world

Or do they stay behind hoping for someone

To pick them up

To dust them off

To hold them close and say

You are the thing I know I want to love


This is for all the boys with colored roots

In every shade from Tundra tinted to Humus Hued.

This is for the ones who were born in England, grew up in Nigeria and wound up in America

This for the ones who are like a tapestry made up of various threads of European textures

Decorated in Native American colors

And stitched by African American expression

This is for the third culture kids

This is for the Appalachians and the Inuits

This is for the untouchables and the Almajiris

This is for the man who looks into the mirror

And sees the reflection of the boy he used to be


Sometimes I want to tell him

That despite the fact that you are

Perfect in every way

And you are beautiful in every shade

This world won’t always treat you kindly

But even still,

You must never be afraid to be amazing


Sometimes you have to close your eyes and jump

Because if you don’t

You’ll never know what it feels like to fall

And you will never know what it feels like to fly either


Lastly, there might come a day

When someone sees you as a threat

And if that day comes

Look ’em square in the eye

And tell them that you are your own dream

So you don’t have to be their nightmare

One Like Her #bringbackourgirls

One sits in front of the family compound
Catatonic
Bleary-eyed
Can’t remember the last time she has slept

One leads the march through the streets of the town
Flanked by hundreds of others just like her
Some hold lanterns to light the way home
Others hold hearts dying from wounds that can’t be seen

One kneels in a mosque
One kneels in a church
Each prays to a God who doesn’t seem to be listening
Because tonight he’s too busy healing the knees of arthritic crickets

Another night passes and the crickets cry with them
Where are our daughters?
Bring back our girls

Halfway across the world
One will be awoken by the sound of breakfast in bed
One will rejoice in the tradition of using materialism as a proxy for affection
Another will be completely forgotten
And yet another one will hold her own a little closer to her heart
After learning the fate of so many others just like her.

One will say it’s not my problem
One will join the clarion call
In a hospital,
In a hut,
By the side of the road somewhere,
One will begin a new kinship with generations of others just like her

One will leave the last little pieces of herself in the apple tree that sits at the center of the backyard of the house where her children grew up
One will laugh in utter disbelief at the moment when she realizes that she is just like the one she had.
One will ask of you to keep your brothers AND your sisters
For the tears of one who has lost a child is the same as that of many others just like her.

Mothers like her know the fear that they may never see their children again all too well
And I join these mothers in hoping that their children return to their arms safe and sound.

Continue reading

Love Song For the Moon

It seemed like everyone saw it coming except for me

The great cataclysm that brought your being into my world

At once, the neighbors cheered violently

As we fully enthralled in the raucous passion of that moment

Dance around each other like gyroscopes in a ring

We knew right then and there

That we were made for each other

Perhaps deep down we guessed we were made by each other

In the very way these cosmic things come together and come undone

So it was and so it has been

 

Mother Gaia once told me

That only those in the seat

Know where the pins prick the hardest

Our friends never see it

But darling we both know that we are drifting apart

 

I can’t make you twirl the way you did when we younger

And with each day, your iridescence grows fainter

I only ever see one side of you anymore

And you don’t stir my waves of passion the way you once did

 

My love

There is no denying that the years have been hard on us

We’ve been bruised and battered by many things

But alas, we are still here

Still standing side by side

And I will stay

As close you’ll keep me

And I will dance

For as long as our song shall play

I wrote the preceding piece back in April of last year. I got the idea from an episode of Radiolab in which Jad Abumrad was talking about the moon drifting away from the earth  over time. Being as this is the lead up to Valentine’s Day, I figured it was a perfect time to post it.

Peace, Love, Many Blessings