Three Poems by Nick Leininger

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Kin

My name means victory of the people
It’s a name to honor those who were given the least

A name to honor the people taken from where they were from
I am my mother’s son

I don’t share my mother’s skin
I more closely resemble my father’s kin

Mark was my father’s father
I have his middle name

He worked with his hands
His hands were worn, cut and calloused
Cuts displayed all over his fingertips
A long lineage to farmers

His left eye was green and his right eye was blue
Not an ounce of malice buried between the two

Blue like the waters his ancestors traveled
Leaving Germany behind for the new world

My mother was born on an island
She grew accustomed to violence
Trauma was her only inheritance

During her first five years of life, her home had no running water
Her African ancestors wished they could run away. I’ll never know their names.

She came to America after she met my father
Her brown skin knew it wasn’t welcome here

She too came from humble beginnings
In honoring her past, I hope for a better future.

Black Tribes

Black leaders, black lives
Black leaders, black tribes
Ancestors from across the equator

Mothers and fathers, daughters, and sons
Some have been lost while others have won

The sun shines cascading a collection of shades
As shadow’s embrace a collection of shapes

Languages lost, and languages lived
Words left unspoken

The sound of distant melodies
The sounds of distant memories

Etched back into the infinite
Born back beneath…the sands…of time

Miles Away

I stand on the shoulders of giants, listening to the syncopation of giant steps
Miles and miles away, whole steps and half steps, marching away from segregation
A child of different tribes and different lives. We are one and the same.

Nick Leininger is a local DC poet originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Nick graduated from American University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications. During his days as a student, Nick had his first poem published in the 2017 edition of Bleakhouse Publishing’s Tacenda magazine. Today Nick works for a tech company as a customer success specialist. Nick hopes to grow as a writer and to continue his support of the arts. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the various museums and art galleries of DC, engaging in physical activity, and continuing his quest for the perfect cold brew coffee. Poetry is Nick’s preferred medium of self-expression. He believes that poetry is where he can accurately express his true self in the most elegant way possible.

These poems were supported by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Latino Affairs and through a retreat for Afro-Latin poets produced April 15, 2023 by Day Eight, directed by Jeffrey Banks and Maritza Rivera.

Image: Tiago Fioreze, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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