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Giovanni, Nikki
by Nikki Giovanni

if i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do
it's not the same thing
but it's the best i can
if i can't have
what i want . . . then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want
since i can't go
where i need
to go . . . then i must . . . go
where the signs point
through always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral
when i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know
but that's why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry


My Poem

i am 25 years old
black female poet
wrote a poem asking
nigger can you kill
if they kill me
it won't stop
the revolution
i have been robbed
it looked like they knew
that i was to be hit
they took my tv
my two rings
my piece of african print
and my two guns
if they take my life
it won't stop
the revolution
my phone is tapped
my mail is opened
they've caused me to turn
on all my old friends
and all my new lovers
if i hate all black
and all negroes
it won't stop
the revolution
if i never write
another poem
or short story
if i flunk out
of grad school i
f my car is reclaimed
and my record player
won't play
and if i never see
a peaceful day
or do a meaningful
black thing
it won't stop
the revolution
the revolution
is in the streets
and if i stay on
the fifth floor
it will go on
if i never do
it will go on