Keiki Leni Ward

“My name is Keiki Leni Ward. I’m a spoken word poet and former student at Ravenswood Middle School. I write about my history and heritage, my environment, my community, and my hopes as a young woman of color. I have entered different poetry contests and have had my work featured by the Ravenswood Education Foundation as part of their Giving Tuesday campaign.”

Poem on Identity

PETUNIA

I used to think of myself as the forgotten
As a petunia that fell from a bush into the thick concrete
A plant that would never be able to replant itself
But would instead lay to rot
Where this petunia would constantly be smashed by the sneakers of those who walked by
Or perhaps burned by the sun
As petals fall off this once beautiful petunia
Parts of me began to fall off
and become disconnected
Discouraged, dissed, discombobulated even disfigured
Until my petals
my gifts were spread and all I was left with was to look at my shallow core
The core laid brown in dark secrets caved in by me
But maybe there is hope for a little ole petunia like me
Maybe a crack in the cement which allowed dirt to escape
A new opportunity
Maybe the right wind
Or the right angle
I just might grow
Like Tupac’s rose in concrete
Watch me blossom
watch me regrow
my petals loom in and my giving tree starts to grow
Watch my leaves tower over my lost dreams
Watch my leaves touch the shoes on power lines
Watch me make it out because my tears watered and grew my roots
I made it out because I found my roots
or maybe, I made it out because I had to lose all of my roots
So who am I?
I am more than the forgotten
I am not the rose that you knew which grew from concrete
I am the beautiful petunia which sprouted from a bush of dead weeds in the middle of these streets

Copyright © by Keiki Leni Ward. Presented by the Ravenswood Education Foundation. Used with permission of the author.

Read Keiki Leni’s poem, “Mirroring Sea”.