He wanted to right
the couplets of Wheatley,
the folking of Hughes,
the dialect of Dunbar,
the preaching of Johnson,

when all the sounds were crowding out
the purpose of the sounding, so

he planted new criteria.
He wanted a rite
of passage so
the beauty would be seen despite
projected ugliness.

He would not be silenced, as
he brushed his voice
across the canvas of a zeitgeist
determined to predestine
a people as colored,
but uncolorful.

He wanted the right
to color everything
with words
that would be heard,
scraping words
like fingernails
across former miseducation
that confined thinking,
and acting,
and being.

The day for delusions was done.
He hung his words
at the front door
of progress.