Papa, come home, ‘cause I decided awhile back
I want to be just like you, but I’m forgetting who you are.”
And 25 years later, a little boy cries.
And so I write these words and try to heal
And try to father myself.
And I dream up a father
Who says the words my father did not.
“Dear son, I’m sorry I never came home.
For ever lesson I failed to teach, hear these words:
‘Shave in one direction with strong deliberate strokes
To avoid irritation.
Dribble the page with the brilliance of your ballpoint pen.
Walk like a God, and your Goddess will come to you.
No longer will I be there to knock on your door,
So you must learn to knock for yourself.
Knock knock down doors of racism and poverty that I could not.
Knock knock on doors of opportunity
For the lost brilliance of the black men who crowd these cells.
Knock knock with diligence for the sake of your children.
Knock knock for me.
For as long as you are free,
These prison gates cannot contain my spirit.
The best of me still lives in you.
Knock knock with the knowledge that you are my son,
But you are not my choices.”
Yes, we are our fathers’ sons and daughters,
But we are not their choices.
For despite their absences,
We are still here,
With the power to change this world
One little boy and girl at a time.