No Reservations

My teacher, David Vendetti, read the poem below at the end of class yesterday morning. I laid there on my mat while little explosions went off in my brain, my heart, everywhere.


No Reservations ~ Nikki Giovanni

there are no reservations
for the revolution

no polite little clerk
to send notice
to your room
saying you are WANTED
on the battlefield

there are no banners
to wave you forward
no blaring trumpets

not even a blues note
to the yoruba drums saying
strike now shoot
strike now fire
strike now run

there will be no grand
parade
and a lot thrown around
your neck
people won’t look up and say
“why he used to live next to me
isn’t it nice
it’s his turn now."

there will be no recruitment
station
where you can give
the most convenient hours
"monday wednesday i play ball
friday nights i play cards
any other time i'm free" 

there will be no reserve
of energy
no slacking off till next time
"let's see---i can come back
next week
better not wear myself out
this time"

there will be reservations
only
if we fail.


There are no reservations for the revolution—not for the ones inside of you, or the ones outside (as if they are different). Nobody will come asking you to participate, give you permission, or make you stay the course. Quite the contrary. You will get a lot of people wishing you'd just shut up, stay the same and stay quiet, stop making a mess of everything and ruin it for us all.

Not me.

I hope you never shut up, stay the same, stay quiet, keep it all neat and tidy.

I hope you shout until we are all uncomfortable, and then shout once more just to remind us again of your location.

I hope you never stay the same—not for me, not for anyone. Even if I tell you I want you to because I am afraid, don't believe me.

I hope you keep changing until you become unrecognizable to everyone but your own heart.

I hope you never shut up; I hope your voice rises and rings so loud it is deafening.

And I hope you make messes everywhere. I hope you make the kind of messes that are chaos preceding great change. I hope you break through the shells of what's too small for you and that you wait until the dust settles before you start again. I hope you give yourself a chance to breathe into your new shape just long enough to let us see you, before you step out onto the battlefield again.