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
    jesus
    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 . . .

Copyright © 1968 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with permission of the author.

I love you
            because the Earth turns round the sun
            because the North wind blows north
                 sometimes
            because the Pope is Catholic
                 and most Rabbis Jewish
            because the winters flow into springs
                 and the air clears after a storm
            because only my love for you
                 despite the charms of gravity
                 keeps me from falling off this Earth
                 into another dimension
I love you
            because it is the natural order of things

I love you
            like the habit I picked up in college
                 of sleeping through lectures
                 or saying I’m sorry
                 when I get stopped for speeding
            because I drink a glass of water
                 in the morning
                 and chain-smoke cigarettes
                 all through the day
            because I take my coffee Black
                 and my milk with chocolate
            because you keep my feet warm
                 though my life a mess
I love you
            because I don’t want it
                 any other way

I am helpless
            in my love for you
It makes me so happy
            to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
            locking me in an echo chamber
            where your voice reverberates
            through the four walls
            sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
            because it’s been so good
            for so long
            that if I didn’t love you
            I’d have to be born again
            and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
            is so simple
            the thought though of you
            sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
            thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
            because no two snowflakes are alike
            and it is possible
            if you stand tippy-toe
            to walk between the raindrops
I love you
            because I am afraid of the dark
                 and can’t sleep in the light
            because I rub my eyes
                 when I wake up in the morning
                 and find you there
            because you with all your magic powers were
                 determined that
I should love you
            because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you

I love you
            because you made me
                 want to love you
            more than I love my privacy
                 my freedom          my commitments
                      and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
            to love you
            because you saw me one Friday
                 afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

“Resignation” from The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1998 by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright compilation © 2003 by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.