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Poetry Corner: STILL I RISE

(After Maya Angelou)

Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

You stamp my image on a coin
To commemorate our ties
Turn me into loose change
But still, despite your spin, I rise

Does my memory upset you?
Why are you racked with guilt?
‘Cause I talked like I had gold
Dripping down the walls you built?

Just like imprisoned fathers and living sons
With the certainty of our freedom cries
Calloused knees on soiled fields
Still I’ll rise

Did you carve me on the back of a quarter?
The flipside of a slave owner’s head
Just so you could spin me to tails
Betrayed in silver coins to my fate

Does my pride in winning still offend you?
Don’t you hate it when I make it?
‘Cause I sing and dance, put it all to rhyme
It’s playing in your dirty mind and you can’t forsake it

You may shoot me with your guns
You may cut me with your lies
You may kill me with your coppers
But still, like the heat, I’ll rise

Does my shininess upset you?
When l’m stacked, are you surprised?
Worth more than billionaires in space
Leaving your orbit with those envious eyes

Still only a quarter to your dollar
I rise
Jangling louder and louder in your pockets
I rise
Still tugging at chains, losing your collars
I rise
Electrifying tasers, shooting like rockets
I rise

Trap me in forgotten piggy banks yet
I rise
Reduce me to back of the bus fare yet
I rise
Throwaway charity in a homeless hat yet
I rise
Clatter me in a street busker’s tin box yet
I rise

All your spin for this flippancy yet
I rise
I rise
I rise.

(Note: A news article on the issuing of quarters with the image of poet Maya Angelou states: “Maya Angelou, featured on the reverse of  the first coin in the series, a quarter dollar, used words to inspire and uplift.” I was struck by the irony of George Washington, a slave owner, remaining on the “heads” side of the coin, while Angelou “graces the tails”. )

First published in The Marbled Sigh, USA

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