Become – a poem by Johana-Marie Williams


………Why aren’t i a poet?
………a slam poet, a free-styler, from the tip of my tongue
………to the tip of your mind and you like that don’t you,
………“tip of your mind”?

Why can’t my words flow in the free wheeling free rhyming rhythm
that so many others of my descent seem to be fully capable of?
Is that I am not urban? I’m sorry but I am not.

………Somewhat country,
………definitely small town,
………black (African American)

but I am not urban; born and raised in a
college town with access to broader culture but still
small enough to still feel like I might possibly be able
to leave my door unlocked if I absolutely have to
and at the end of the day come back
to a fully furnished home.

Yes I am a small town, small group, homebody kind of black (African American)
girl-woman, classically trained by her mother–and I’ll be honest a little disconnected
from the history that is so much apart of me though not by choice,
and I make up for it with my access to “higher” forms…
Wait, is that what we’re calling it now, “higher” forms of art?
Somehow the only thing that seems “high “about them is
their distance from me and the ideas they are meant to express.

Anyway, the nonconformist in me won’t let me contain my expression
and if I will not be allowed to break the mold by adhering to my roots,
I will form a new set of roots drawn out with
black eye liner, plum colored hair,
Gothic subculture, safety pins, Cocteau Twins,
Anti-Racist Skinheads, post hardcore, Art Nouveau,
………up-chuck-inducing love.

Yes, I will hammer the floor with my fist and scream “I wanna see waves!” over and over again  in a growl that so many emotive hardcore boys will learn to envy. And oh you didn’t know I was that kind of girl too? But see behind the small town, homebody, post-punk, post hardcore, neon, burn-my-palm-on-a-candle-flame-love, African American girl woman is one who wants more than any of these identities can begin to offer. It’s a cliche she needs, the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, and surety of her own existence. A girl woman who wants to be sure that she’s not a unicorn.

………That is, she wants to be sure
………that she not a thing that does exist
………but only as an idea
………of something that does not actually exist,
………not as something actual,

but soon she is convinced that
it’s okay to be the unicorn,
to be the thing that isn’t actually actual
except as an idea because she-me–
is God’s idea and His ideas are so far
beyond ours that they do become actual things
that do actually exist.

And that’s all anyone could ever ask for.

At the end of it all I am poet, a slam poet.
My words can flow in a free wheeling
free rhyming rhythm and I can compete for ideas
I can think fast on my feet,
even if only with a pen and paper or laptop in front of me,
and that’s okay.
Above all these, I am an idea become actuality,
and who could ask for more?

Johana-Marie Williams is a writer, artist, and historian focusing on Black women and femmes’ health and religio-spiritual experiences. Her current projects include her perzine caro and papers on the history of Black midwives in Leon County, Florida and Black female protagonists and transhumanism in science-fiction and fantasy media. You can see her work at

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