You can cast me in the darkest pit
and turn from it while seething.
And erase me from this very world,
but baby, I’m still breathing.
Does it really make me worthless
and deserving of no love?
‘Cause the strength to overcome your madness
courses through my blood.
Just like town halls and chow calls
your antics are meant to weaken.
Just like fish under mountains of troubled waters,
still, I’m breathing.
Did you think that I would take it
now you want to unleash your wrath,
‘Cause I’m angry, black, and dysfunctional
the product of your bloodbath.
Do you really mean to demean
my legacy to a lie?
‘Cause I take your punches in the gut
while holding my head high.
You can dub me a gangster, thug, or crook
a hoodlum, or a heathen
and strip from me everything I love
but still, like wine, I’m breathing.
Do you really think that I deserved
the lashings on my back.
‘Cause I made it through your troubled storm
with my soul still intact.
Til the ashes of Mother Earth yields up the voices of my people,
Til the day when materialism no longer determines my equal,
Til chains, chairs, and chambers are no longer justices’ end and my fellow American can call me brother, regardless of my skin,
I’m still breathing.
When my past sins reinvent themselves as my present day regrets,
When the weight of the entire world is riding on my chest,
When reason enough for the war to be won
is just knowing that I’m somebody’s son
and I’m breathing,
I’m still breathing
*This poem was written as an homage to Maya Angelou’s – “Still I Rise”