I Don’t Know It Yet, But This Is Living by Zakiah Goff

On days when life seems pointless and you're just going through the motions, there's always that empty pit someplace inside your spirit that never seems to fill. Zakiah Goff addresses this gut wrenching feeling in “I Don’t Know It Yet, But This Is Living”. We all have felt this at some point, or many points, in life: is life ever going to get better?

Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.

A friendly reminder that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and we here Lyricality celebrate and recognize the contributions of those of Asian descent.

Our guest editor for May and June is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay:

Sabaidee, my name is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. I’m a Lao American poet, playwright, and cultural producer who is based in Saint Paul. When I was invited to be a guest editor for the May and June collection of poems for Sunday Lyricality, I was thrilled. For the past several months, I have been a mentor to eight emerging student-writers through Minnesota State Colleges’ Write Like Us Program. 

The student-writers represent five MN colleges and are interested in everything from historical fiction, metaphysical poetry, science fiction, prose, screenwriting, children’s lit, prose, memoir, and art criticism. Today, I’ve challenged them to make room for poetry and gave them the theme A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N. 

Because they are all trying to carve spaces for themselves in this community.
Because the world is expecting to be moved by them.
Because they have an urgent story to tell.
Because they have a bone to pick.
Because they want to put a smile on your face. 
Because they’re inviting you to be interrogative. 
Because maybe what they reveal in their poetry is the vulnerability we’re afraid to bring to surface ourselves. 

I hope that our readers will find these eight poets to be a balm on their May and June Sundays. 

Fondly, Saymoukda

I Don’t Know It Yet, But This Is Living
Zakiah Goff

I sit alone in my room/ I spill coffee on a freshly washed hoodie/ I learn to walk my own body/ to maintain the flesh sack/ for all the years it has left/ I harbor this fugitive inside of me/ called sadness/ I don’t ask it to leave/ I make it tea and instead ask/ do you see anyone these days?/ do you remember when you used to be somebody to miss?/ I wait for a reply/ that never comes/ I lay alone in my bed/ I listen to the same songs on repeat/ I whisper to myself/ I need to get out of here/ I don’t mean my room/ I mean my body/ I overhear two strangers/ complain about jobs they don’t like/ and people they miss/ I want to ask them/ if life is always going to feel this way/ like a perpetual coffee stain/ on a freshly washed hoodie/ or like waiting for a text back/ or tea to cool down/ like waiting for a hand to come down/ and reach for me/ and save me/ like always waiting/ I watch as the curtain finally closes/ the world is dark/ I wait for an applause/ that never comes/ I know now/ that I could never be saved. 


Zakiah Goff : Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois into a loving two-parent African American and Mexican household, Write Like Us Program Fellow, Zakiah Goff struggled to make sense of the two worlds she lived between. She managed to deal with these emotions with the help of art and creative writing combined with her love for reading. Weaving both fictional and non-fiction stories, she hopes to write characters that are inclusive and represent people who look and exist like her. 

About Saymoukda: Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao writer. CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual…in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.” She’s the author of the children’s book WHEN EVERYTHING WAS EVERYTHING and is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS. Her work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants/fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights’ Center, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and others. Saymoukda is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, a McKnight Foundation Fellow in Community-Engaged Practice Art, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in playwriting. She has served on Governor Walz’s State Poet Laureate design & selection committee, co-hosted a podcast on Minnesota Public Radio, and is currently serving on the City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Board. You can get to know her at www.refugenius.net and @refugenius on Instagram.

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