From close proximity, the speaker observes how the boys she knows intimately face daily obstacles in a world full of heavy systemic institutions.
All the boys she’s ever loved Had something in common Gentlemen but not always gentle Played hardball but gooey at the center All the boys she’s ever loved Wore tints to see the world Raised by street curriculum Passed every test Til it was time to pull the trigger That commitment, they’d reject All the boys she’s ever loved Had one thing on their minds Survivin' for a tomorrow Where they’d never have to borrow All the boys she’s ever loved Pressed down by a similar weight Followed a faulty blueprint Crafted on their own For their exemplars did the same While missing a pillar in the home All the boys she’s ever loved Dreamed the same dream Knew God reigned above Though questioned the authenticity of his love For if He’d created them as Kings, And granted them a Queen, Where was the Kingdom amid the poverty they’d seen?
I witnessed how complex adversity, built by oppression, impacted loved ones. Specific situations were only microcosms for patterns and cycles of hardship. Determination and grit are required not to succumb to the various endemics that plague our society. It’s ingrained with systems that support, constrain, and penalize unjustly. I prioritized Anaphora by repeating the opening line at the beginning of each stanza. It contributed to fluidity while emphasizing the speaker’s perspective. At the end of each stanza, I explored rhyme. The tempo and rhythm of the work were intentional, given it originated as a spoken-word poem.
A native Brooklynite, Kayah Hodge is a Marketing Assistant at Macmillan Publishers. The recent alumna of Hamilton College specialized in Creative Writing, honed her voice as a lover of literature, and was recently featured in Carnegie Hall's Afrofuturism display. Outside of writing mixed genre material, Kayah enjoys spending time learning new recipes and cooking with love. Her favorite authors include Jacqueline Woodson, James Baldwin, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She particularly appreciates work that sheds light on immigrant experiences and the vastness of underrepresented cultures.