Honey Bell-Bey performs “It’s Too Late.”
It’s too late to throw in the towel,
if you were going to quit you should have done it by now,
When you’ve already seen God’s power.
It’s too late to dim the light when you’ve already climbed the light tower.
All the tears you’ve cried, you serve a God who told you Revelation that He’s going to wipe every tear away. So pick up your tears, pick up the towel, wipe your sweat and get in the ring even in those days where it doesn’t even feel like a boxing match,
but it feels like it’s a hurdle match and you’re jumping over
Hurdle after hurdle after hurdle after hurdle
it’s too late to quit, it’s too soon to throw in the towel
it’s a fixed fight and it’s fixed based off of who your daddy is.
Your daddy is a champion. Your daddy got in the ring with death and took dart after dart after dart and if it’s in your daddy then it’s in you because he’s there, he’s always watching you, ready to jump in the ring and fight your battle,
always there, watching not just you, but watching the opponent, watching, carrying you, sometimes the people closest to you don’t know what to do with you, but his yoke is easy and his burden is light, when you’ve cried more tears than the law should allow,
you’re going to smile again, when you try to be strong when the people closest to you can’t fix what’s wrong, do you want to know why you’re gonna win?
It is because he’s carrying you, he’s protecting you and every battle that comes against you he already won. He won the greatest battle when he defeated death, dart after dart, blow after blow and if it’s in your daddy, it’s in you. He’s always there, watching you, watching you, watching your opponent, ducking and giving you exactly what you need to win it’s too soon to throw in the towel. You were born with greatness in you. In fact, there’s not a fight he’s not prepared to win. He’s watching you. It’s impossible for you to lose because when it’s all said and done
He’s carrying you, every tear, every scream, the things you wanted, but couldn’t tell anyone else. I don’t care how bad the pain, the tears the brokenness, he’s watching, he’s holding you, he’s smiling down on you, protecting you. Get back up.
When your back is against the wall and it’s hard to stand tall and do the work of a Paul, when you feel like a Saul, and your back is against the wall…
No matter how far you’ve gone, he’s taken the darts, he’s taken the blows and he’s defeated the greatest opponent and if he did it you’ll do it too because he’s carrying you and it’s too late to throw in the towel!
Copyright © 2018 Honey Bell-Bey. Used with permission of the poet.
I tap-tap-tap the window, while my mother smiles and mouths,
Tranquila. I tap-tap the glass, my mother a fish I’m trying to summon.
I tap until a border agent says: Stop. Until a border agent
shows me the gun on her belt. My childhood was caught
on video border agents deleted every three months.
I thought myself a movie star blowing kisses at the children
selling chiclets on the bridge. My cruelty from the backseat window
caught on video—proof I am an American. The drug sniffing
dogs snap their teeth at my mother detained for her thick accent,
a warp in her green card. My mother who mouths, Tranquila.
My mother’s fingers dark towers on a screen for the Bioten scan.
Isn’t it fun? says the border agent. The state takes a picture
of my mother’s left ear. Isn’t it fun? I tap-tap-tap the glass
and imagine it shatters into shiny marbles. A marble like the one
I have in my pocket, the one I squeeze so hard I hope to reach
its blue swirls. Blue swirls I wish were water I could bring to my mother
in a glass to be near her. Friends, Americans, countrymen lend me your ears!
But only the border agent replies, Do you know the pledge of allegiance?
She points to a flag pinned on a wall. I do, so I stand and pledge to the country
that says it loves me so much, it loves me so much it wants to take
my mother far away from me. Far away, to the place they keep
all the other mothers to sleep on rubber mats and drink from rubber hoses.
Don’t worry, says the border agent, we will take good care of your mommy.
My mother mouths, Tranquila. Her teeth, two rows of gold I could pawn
for something shiny, something shiny like the border agent’s gun.
Friends, Americans, countrymen lend me your ears, so I can hear
my mother through bulletproof glass, so I can hear her over the roar
of American cars crossing this dead river by the wave of an agent’s pale hand.
Copyright © 2020 by Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.