If given one wish,
I'd ask that every one of my students
learn how to fly.
That they grow wings like Michael Jordan
leap so high above the rafters
that we start to mistake slam dunks
for shooting stars in the sky.
Even for a second, I wish they could fly.
Just to touch and taste the impossible
To extend a pair of palms in
a game of paddy cake with the sun
and then cooled them off in the cotton candy
of a nearby rain cloud
if only my students could soar.
Levitate in the rapture of the sky's limitation
because up here there is no room
for the clanging of fists to steel cage.
No space for bill collectors
This is goodbye to broken accents and broken faucets
To absent fathers who wish they could be there
To every time black men happen to fit
This is no more Wal-mart
no more gym class bullies
no more black and white
no more shut up and sit down
there are no more excuses
where I'm taking you.
Just an open door of opportunity
and a level playing field
and it sounds awfully close to heaven
but trust me you won't need a redemption song
just for admission
I know you are scared.
Your senses are so backward
I can hear the fear in your eyes
Slow the pain in your sweat
It's unnatural to fly
We live in a world where zip codes and last names
determine your flight plan.
Where only 30% of black students
will ever have the privilege to dream
of life beyond high school.
The same story in Baltimore, Oakland and Philadelphia
streets littered with injustice
so walk or run if you'd like
but the system will keep you down
flight is your only option
they'll pluck you in the prime of your youth
they'll tar and feather you
they will laugh and half you I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that hunger keeps you up at night
that Pablo Neruda's ode to food is too much to swallow
for your barren stomach sorry
the pigment of your face
and the timbre of your voice
the drawl of your speak
I'm sorry for the questions I cannot answer,
like why do all the good teachers leave after a year, or
how can a diploma ever be good enough.
We've cultivated a generation of students, an atlas.
Throw the weight of the world on their back
and if asked them to fly
never mind the fact that other students
are running around weightless,
so to the teachers and politicians
and parents and everyone else in-between,
you must remember to carry some of the burden for our children
extend our cradled arms always remind them
there's a place for safe landing if they need it,
These students are not stupid,
just never been tested, they are not hopeless, not helpless
just motherless children just begging to leave the nest
future surgeons who will mend our broken dreams
pilots and astronauts we will send to the sky so if we
ask them to fly,
we must first give them their wings.