Bicycles

Love Poems

by Nikki Giovanni

Bicycles

Hardcover, 109 pages, Harpercollins, List Price: $16.99 | purchase

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Book Summary

Poems explore poignant and tragic experiences from the past decade of the author's life, from the losses of her mother and sister to the shooting at Virginia Tech, where she is a professor of English.

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Excerpt: Bicycles

Bicycles

Bicycles

Love Poems


HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Nikki Giovanni
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061726453

Blacksburg Under Siege: 21 August 2006

(for Carolyn Rude)

Not safe . . . not even all that nice . . . when you think about it . . . What mean fraternity boys do with their fists . . . and drunk fraternity boys do with their penises . . . barefoot boys do with guns . . . Whether it's a redneck screaming "nigger" . . . or a poet hollering "titties" . . . illegal and unkind behavior tells someone s/he ­doesn't belong . . . check it . . . check it out . . .

Not nice . . . No . . . And no reason to feel safe

A good day . . . someone pointed out . . . however . . . to be black . . . or a woman . . . and not be hunted . . . and not have to hold your head down . . . and not have to quiver . . . when you pass a man . . . police . . . or professional . . . yet still knowing . . . at any given moment . . . you are a target . . .

"They didn't move fast enough" . . . they cried . . . "They could have done more" . . . they demanded . . . "More to let us hold on to our illusions of safe . . . to let us hold on to our illusion of fair . . . to let us hold on to our illusions . . . illusions . . . illusions" . . . And whether it was a bullet flying or an animal cracker coming straight at you . . . it was an attack . . . And yes . . . maybe there could be faster motion . . . faster lockdown . . . faster dismissal . . . but hey there is the bigger picture . . . and after all he didn't mean it . . . his leg was sprained . . . he's so intelligent . . . so talented . . . so special . . . he didn't realize his heart was blind . . . he didn't understand he was causing pain . . . Bang! Bang . . . he sang . . . I shot you Down but I really didn't have a gun . . . and just because you're dead . . . ­doesn't mean I really did it . . .

I shot the deputy . . . hey hey . . . he sings . . . but I only pretended with the rest of you

And in the end he was very careful with himself . . . Sure not to be treated the way he treated McFarland and Sutphin . . . Avoiding the knockout blow or killer smile he dealt the man who came when he called "Help" . . . Silencing his victims with death for their goodwill and sense of decency . . . Or their pity for him . . . Do all the sane and sober things to protect yourself, Monster . . . so that you can plead Innocent By Reason of Not Paying Close Attention . . . Threaten us that you can make Blacksburg not ever be the same again . . .

But we will be the same . . . willful ignorance will overpower indignation every time . . .

That still does not make us nice . . . and it sure ­doesn't make us safe

Continues...



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