first lines never cares what time it is
they nudge their cold noses against my ear, wanting to go for walks in the briskest part of the a.m.
they don’t care that I just went to sleep
that I’m lazy
that I no longer take to the habit of keeping journals by the bed for this very moment
that I want to shoo them away
but I’m too afraid of losing one
so I drag my right hand from under the covers
grab the pen that has long since riddled my bedspread with ink blots
and let the poem do its business
so we can both head back to sleep

some days I want to quit
afraid that the words I write or maybe even my own life just will never be good enough
but thankfully words don’t give up
they are ants, crawling in a line
sending out one at a time to scout out the territory
I mean they bring reinforcements
long lines of stanzas tracing the trail from floorboards, down the doorjamb, surrounding the perimeter of my walls
will not be stomped out or stopped until they find the sweet thing they’ve been searching for

so despite the decline of printing presses
or the fact that magazines, books, and newspapers are becoming an endangered species
or that words have historically been misused and taken advantage of
they will never grow extinct
will not be rationed or relegated to government assistance
words know no economic crisis
their stimulus plan
can be found in my grandmother’s scrabble tiles
searching for triple word score
or in the hands of a little colored girl
clutching the spine of for colored girls
hoping to find the backbone to be herself
in a world that would encourage her to be anything but

so as long as God is still speaking
as long as the story must be told
as long as the words hidden in your heart will always show up on your tongue
as long as a whisper still has the power to send the hairs on the back of your neck to rise in standing ovation
words will survive

they are really just like the rest of us
searching for a place called home
with strong arms and a warm heart to hold them
hoping for someone to take them in and accept them in their present tense
for someone to believe in them, that they can be something

which is why at the end of a long day of living
and an even longer list of things to do
I leave my worries outside this room
lay next to these words and wrap my arms around them until I can feel them breathing
and sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night just to share each other’s secrets
and after we both fall asleep
the pen slips from my fingers and leaves its mark on the page

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