Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

An Actor’s Angst


i thought i’d be OK just
living a normal life
for a little while.
but i’m abnormal like 6 toes
and backwards clothes–
i kris kross emotions
like it’s in vogue,
haute my job
as i lean uncomfortably to fold
myself into a box
i was told
i’m supposed to fit in,
knowing that i’m too large
to be contained.
i just wanna work somewhere where i
could walk around barefoot and talk to artists about
motivations and
breathing
all day–

not office work!

this is not my life right now.
underneath my skin i sense a scream building up,
a bravado in the back of my throat.
aspirations knock on the inside of my forehead
and slide past my eyes so that
i can’t see what’s in front of me clearly.
what do i do now?
i got bills to pay.
i can’t move–my feet are glued
to an office floor
with brown carpet and on three sides of me
are bluish-gray walls with pictures
of what makes me happy
so that i can maintain my sanity
for 40 hours of a week
that i spend feeling weak
but appearing strong.

i should be happy–i perform all day long.
it starts around 6:30 in the morning when my alarm goes off
and i play someone who really cares about
getting to a 9 to 5 on time.
then on my train ride,
i read books and listen to my ipod,
attempting to blend in
with other discontent, dressed-up people
with heavy eyelids.
then i arrive at the office.
if i were just playing a character, i’d be on this.
but the truth of the matter is
that i desire to be on stages,
in rehearsal rooms and in classes.

i am fire and this life is ash.
and it’s cold.
i shiver in my too-cold cubicle
and figure that maybe i’m not
cut out for this climate.
i’m too warm for this cold shit.
too alive for this dead shit.
too smart for this bullshit.
too passionate to live as if
i really have to settle for this.
i got 3 degrees from 6 years in a university
and have experienced trouble
for as long as i can remember
so this simple series
of 8 hour days, 5 days a week
should be nothing.
i’ve dealt with bigger numbers than this,
been through days where i wanted to quit on life,
wished i would flat line
but even that extreme seems more alive
than the gray i live in now.

how did this happen?
when one lives in dreams
without intermissions of reality,
all they really are is asleep.
waking moments are really life.
and all this time i thought that the
existence behind my eyes
was already mine.

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