Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Me and the Letter P


I’m not one for chain emails and such, but I came across a writing prompt through one of my favorite bloggers, Elizabeth. This is how it works–you read a blog of someone who has written about 10 things they love that begin with a certain letter. Anyone who leaves a comment will be given a letter to keep the writing exercise going. I was given the letter P:

PLEASURE:
hedonistic from my heartbeat to my palms,
from my palette to my jaws,
to my sensitive sexy spots,
i love being hot,
love the feeling of sweat beading on the small of my back
and rolling my eyes back
at feelings that prompt me to enter this state of being.
not always sexual,
pleasure tickles my navel
and makes me knees quiver
like code red hot weather days
sitting under the AC and starting to shiver.
i get turned on by that which is forbidden,
dangerous, good feeling,
comfortable
and pleasurable.

POSSIBILITY:
the unknown,
like a stranger you wish to know
has so much promise,
so much potential,
so much mystery.
which way will it go?
where will i be?
when will they call?
what will i see?
it’s quite exciting,
the not knowing,
the questioning that occurs in the unsatisfied mind
and unfulfilled eyes,
unable to cry
but hoping for inspiration,
a spark or twinkling
that comes from what
might be coming.

PHOTOGRAPHS:
frozen moments of what was once alive
and breathing
and somehow still breathing
and sometimes bleeding
in images that stain minds like gasoline.
they smell sweet to some
while others wish to forget the scent,
they marvel and sometimes lament
at what they see,
the capturing of what used to be
but no longer is.
pictures tease and inspire
and remind and bring fire
to dry eyes and spirits
and if you listen for a voice,
you can hear it softly.
it whispers
“memories.”

PERFORMANCE:
since i was a little girl,
i knew i wanted to be a star.
never mind that i was skinny
and awkward
and dark.
the flashing lights, the applause,
the focus on me
is what brought me to the stage
and continues to be
a source of joy.
but that alone does not make me complete.
to transform,
to leave my sometimes sad life
to become someone full of life
feeds me during moments when i am empty.
to learn from my own imagination
and explore my own limits
and discover more of me
and how i impact them
through art that changes lives
is what i wish to do
until the day i die.

PARENTS:
when i was little,
i adored them.
as i grew older,
i wanted to be nothing like them:
overly careful, worrisome,
and frequently quite annoying.
but now that i am growing,
i want to be just like them.
two people that have given more to me
than they could have dreamed of
giving to themselves
because they look at me
and see their heart traveling outside of themselves,
running into traffic at rush hour
with the risk of getting hurt
as they keep quiet and wait patiently,
praying that i don’t
and that i will always return.
even when i don’t know God,
i know love,
have seen it and touched it with my bare hands
and have named it
mom and dad.

POETRY:
she wakes me in the midst of my sleep,
beckoning me to come and play,
to explore the possibility of word play
and wrap myself in similes and metaphors
like blankets on a cold day.
i often wonder “what for?”
looking at her like just a hobby
like collecting stamps
but she whispers to me softly
and takes my hand,
dragging me to places within my soul
that i never would have dared to go,
showing me the beauty in simplicity
and complexity
and identity.
she completes me–
i am the caterpillar and she is spring
and through her,
i am awakening,
growing wings and color and rarity
and i see myself flying,
releasing,
and finally breathing.

PINK:
the shade of my femininity;
the brighter it is,
the more i see me.
when they look at me,
they see
brown skin, black eyes, black hair
and frankly, there is not much brightness there
so i wear this color
as a reminder that i am woman,
see me roar
as i am blushing-baby-magenta-hot,
sexy, luminous, image of estrogen.
cliche it may be
so just call me
“you don’t know what you got til it’s gone”
or “i told you so”
or “when opportunity knocks, you open the door”
or “a bird in the hand equals two in the bush”
and all that other bullshit
but truth is,
that pink is the color of my spirit,
showing itself in the two parts of my body
that reveal what is inside of me:
my tongue which sets me free
and that other part that exists secretly,
that no one barely sees;
it makes a house right in between
my hips
and on top of the hill of my thighs
and rests until seen by my husband’s eyes,
pupils that will one day see the color pink
and think of me.

PROTEST:
whoever said that we need to adhere to rules
to take things by the book
ought to look in the mirror
and slap themselves.
what the hell?
who said life had to be so boring,
so full of commitment to that which robs us of contentment?
protest brings change
and conformity turns brains to mush
and if we were all oatmeal minded,
then i think Gandhi wouldn’t have minded
the injustice of his people.
and if we all had brains like mud,
then maybe Jesus would have changed his mind
and decided to keep his blood.
if we all had brains like soft sand,
then Huey P. Newton and the rest of the Panthers
never would have raised their hands
and turned them into fists
and before them never would have existed
the Civil Rights Movement
and after them,
there would never be this moment in history
when Barack Obama is changing the course
of what was seen
and turning tradition into a thing of the past,
a chapter in a book that is ending.
the acknowledgments profess that in order to not
have to read the sequel,
we must protest.

PAUL:
once i used to search my Bible,
scanning frantically and trying to find something
that resonates within me,
or at least read of a person who can relate to
what i’ve gone through
but many often seem too holy
and i look at what i used to do
and still do when doors are closed and no one is looking
and close the book and end up thinking,
“is this religion thing really for me?”
but i remember the day when i read the words of a man
who in his honesty, showed me
that i don’t need perfection for God to love me
and that there is a possibility
for my broken soul to heal and get better.
as i read his letters,
encouragement fills me and tears fall from my eyes
and i thank God that a sinner like me
can look of at a real example
of one who didn’t have it all together
but still saved lives.

the PAST:
at a young age, i have lived a full life,
cried as much as i have laughed,
begged God to give me and take away my breath,
to just give me the gift of death,
but i am thankful to still be alive,
to remember the times when i was five
and ran to my daddy’s arms
as he waited for me after school
or the time when i was nine
and learned that i was smart
or the time when i was twelve
and had my first kiss
or the time when i was sixteen
and kissed goodbye to my virginity
or when i was nineteen
and said hello to heartache and suicidal tendencies
and when i was twenty one
and learned the meaning of passion
or when i was twenty three
and a man assaulted me
and when i was twenty four
and art saved me.
my history is beautiful
and i only hope
that my future is as rich,
as flavorful and full of memories,
more that will teach me
and revive me
and remind me
of the times that made me
who i am today.

Keep it going!  I’ll assign you a letter if you leave a comment. (Note: it doesn’t have to be poetry)

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2 responses

  1. Lady, you and this are incredible.

    Elizabeth

    January 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  2. Thanks so much!

    January 11, 2009 at 9:41 pm

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