“No Complaints” — Nikki Giovanni

“No Complaints”

by

Nikki Giovanni

(For Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917—2001)

maybe there is something about the seventh of June: Gwen,
Prince and me . . . or maybe people just have to be born at some
time . . . and there are only three hundred sixty-five days or three
sixty-six every four years or so . . . meaning that some things
happen at the same time in the same rising sign . . . and the same
houses in Gemini . . . but some of us might also consider the
possibility of reincarnating revolving restructuring that spirit . . .
reshaping that spirit . . . releasing that spirit . . . tucking the use-
less inside and when the useless pushes out again we restructure
again and poetry and song and praisesong go on  . . . because it is
the right thing to do

we always will cry when a great heart . . . a good soul . . . one of
the premier poets of her age restructures . . . reincarnates  . . .
revolves into a resolve that we now carry in our hearts . . . as all
great women and men are alive . . . not by biology but remem-
brance . . . and that’s all right . . . as the old folk say . . . because as
long as they stay on the lips . . . they nestle in our hearts and those
souls which are planted . . . continue growing . . . until generations
not knowing their touch . . . their voice . . . or even the fact
that some Chicago poets are terrible cooks . . . but always fun
to eat with . . . will tell tales of having met someone who knew
someone who once watched a basketball game . . . in which some
Chicago poet cheered for Seattle at the request of some Virginia
poet who wanted more games . . . while Mr. Blakely was amazed
that a Chicago poet was even watching a game . . . and didn’t
we miss him as he slipped away watching baseball . . . and what
a way to go . . . though we then did sort of know . . . that once
gone . . . he would call the woman he loved

and so we come to no more phone calls at six a.m. to chat …
and no more Benihana when we are all in New York . . . and no
more gossiping and questioning and trying to make sense of a
senseless world . . . no more face-to-face . . . only the poetry which
is a great monument from this Topeka daughter to the world . . .
and yet . . . there can be no complaints in this passing . . . no
sorrow songs . . . no if onlys . . . it is all here: the work the love:
the woman: who gave and gave and gave . . . no complaints of too
long or too hard . . . no injustice of accident or misunderstanding
of disease . . . just one great woman moving to the next phase . . .
and us on the ground . . . giving Alleluias