My soul refuses to die 
even with a heart full of pain
and eyes full of cries
in the words of Maya Angelou,
“still I rise.”
Call me a phoenix
because from the ashes 
this little ghetto bird still flies.
Tears are nothing more than your mind’s fears
and fears are nothing more than the realization of bravery 
in a world so cold, a little girl so bold
doing her best not to unfold.
What’s optimism? 
kinda hard to answer when you’re focused on pessimism 
but the hopes of happiness got me driven.
I know this sounds crazy
and some might call me lazy 
because no matter how much I want to 
I can’t stop the killing of beautiful black babies.
Trying to be optimistic
while not becoming sadistic.
My soul refuses to die 
At times my eyes are so dehydrated that I can’t even cry 
but I’m optimistic.
Attempting not to be so sadistic.
Optimism, it’s real, isn’t it? 

Tiara Swearington is an unhoused writer and poet who lives in Oakland.