Belonging (The 35th Song)

BelongingI’ve been sitting here singing now for thirty-five years/
listening to the music of my heart whistle through laughter, pain,
happiness and tears. So as I toast the beginning of another song
I stare through the journey of these eyes and reflect
upon the times I struggled in this life
just to belong.

The first song symbolized the celebration of birth
and the miracle of growth as I learned how to take my first
steps on this poverty soiled earth but it wasn’t till the seventh song
that I learned how to truly stand strong/ a young child
wondering why his daddy neglected him to grow a man
all on his own. We struggled to survive and sometimes the hunger
barely kept us alive but these were the lyrics I needed
to set the foundation of my strength but as the twelfth song
begin, I found myself unaware of who I even was.

I stared in mirrors while reflections made fun
of my skinny flame, my face was covered with the tears
of acne as adolescence sent me into a state of silence. No one knew
me because I didn’t think I deserved to be known
until the fourteenth song taught me how to write and poetry
became my voice. But I still didn’t rejoice
there was still pieces of me hidden behind
a mask perfectly constructed by society; a society that mispronounced
my name and had me wallowing inside the walls
of my own self-blame until the nineteenth song defined
a new independence as in the college halls
I discovered an inner knowledge of self awareness
and a redefinition of the face I lived all those years to shield/
I no longer allowed my expression to yield…I became fear/less.

The degree of freedom was my twenty-fourth song.
Released into a new world, I became a young man ready for challenge
and prepared to be heard. I embraced different feelings of love
and by my twenty-seventh song I rose above
the bullets of homophobia and changed the fear
of who I loved to the fear of my mind as I challenged those who judged
with new values of educated thought. I refused to be seen
as anything other than a respected man which led me to the confidence
to look forward to my thirtieth song. It was a new age of victory/
new feelings of security; it was a new awakening of life
as words flowed poetically as the publication of my soul, but sadness
soon became my thirty-second song when death
took my nana and many faces of family begin suddenly to fade.


We lost
four lives in a decade – so young, beautiful and strong
and two more followed becoming my thirty-third song. A moment
of my greatest sorrow, burying my own mother
way too soon also became a moment I found my greatest love
as her heart remained with me and led me to a soul mate;
a lover who helped me through the pain and guided me into a thirty-fourth
song of new dedication, a stronger voice and a new understanding
living each moment to the fullest but my thirty-fourth song
was also almost the last time I would sing.
The day I woke up in a hospital bed I begin…
To realize and recognize that this music—this music here
that they call life can stop playing when we’re not ready YET… to stop
I healed and recovered into a new appreciation
of everything I was, everything I became and everything
I have the chance of becoming because I’ve been given
this thirty-fifth song/
for in this world I continue to live
and have found a way to do more than just belong.


© 2011
Tarringo T. Vaughan

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