Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ego Tripping - Nikki Giovanni

Today, I did not want to make the moment I shook her hand about myself. So instead of telling Nikki Giovanni how she had affected me, I said only thank you.

But the first time I ever read Ego Tripping is still indelible, powerful in my experience. You don't forget moments that change you, that elevate your perspective.

I hope it is forgivable, permissible, for me to reprint her work. It is too important to just hope you will click somewhere and read. And so ...

I was born in the Congo
I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built
The Sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
That only glows every one hundred years falls
Into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
Drinking nectar with Allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to Europe
To cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is Nefertiti
The tears from my birth pains
Created the Nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on the forest and burned
Out the Sahara desert
With a packet of goat's meat
And a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
So swift you can't catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son Hannibal an elephant
He gave me Rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son Noah built New/Ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
As we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
Men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
The filings from my fingernails are
Semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the Arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
The earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
Across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
Like a bird in the sky

The line that captured me a generation ago, and holds me to this day is "I am so hip even my errors are correct" ...

As I grow older, though, it is "I cannot be comprehended except by my permission" that comes to mean more and more.

What gets you, in this piece?

Or in any other poem?


Troy said...

Nice! You peaked my curiosity!

DLM said...

Thank you, Tom! She is a woman of very great grace, impish humor, and apparently a hell of a way with a gas pedal. Virginia is such a culturally rich place to call home.