Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

My Five Stages of Grief in 2015 © Farah Lawal Harris

in psychology,

the Kübler-Ross model describes the five stages of grief

as a series of emotional stages one experiences

when faced with their own impending death

or the death of someone else.

the five stages are:

denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

here are mine:



my mom and dad are immigrants

who came to the U.S. on their own volition,

got student visas to go to college

because it was a smart life decision.

i was born in this country, but Nigeria is in my veins.

now, more than ever, i cling to my ancestors’ names:

my great great grandfather, Herbert Macaulay’s face

is on Nigerian currency;

his grandfather, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s life

has been covered in documentaries.

and then there’s me–

akata-loving girl with an African-American studies degree,

stranger to my parents’ homeland

and i am hated in this country.



i am hated in this country.

not too long ago, some whites

used to lynch niggas at night,

leave mutilated statues of souls that used to be

full vessels of hope


for the hot sun and maggots to eat

until their families cut them down from trees,

trying to revive them

with saltwater tears.

but tears have never been rain.

today, some whites

kill niggas in daylight,

leave mutilated statues of souls that used to be

full vessels of hope


until the community calls out overzealous police,

trying to revive them

with justice.

but justice has never been rain,

so we get devoured

every 28 hours.



every 28 hours,

i or someone i love could die,

but fear overtakes you

when i pass you at night?

i wish you knew how afraid i was of you–

we are marionettes whose strings are pulled

by unpredictable Geppetos

who with one false accusation,

one New Year’s Eve at Fruitvale Station,

one wallet mistaken for a gun,

one day at the playground trying to have fun,

one bachelor party before my wedding day,

one hoodie to protect my head from the rain,

one jaywalk in the middle of the street,

one individual cigarette sold cuz Newports ain’t cheap,

one nap on the couch as the SWAT Team busts in,

one hip-hop song played loud as i hang with my friends,

one knock on the wrong door for help,

one afternoon at Walmart holding merchandise they sell,

could turn my family’s life

into a living hell.

Gepetto, when you wore a white hood instead of blue,

i recognized you.

Gepetto, i wouldn’t be so scared

if you saw me too.

Gepetto, why don’t i matter to you?



why don’t i matter to you?

black lives matter

when we rob, rap and rape.

the only time you see me is when

i make you money or take food off your plate.

i can’t breathe–

i’m in an illegal chokehold.

i can’t breathe–

blackness is incongruous with hope.

i can’t breathe

cuz he was handcuffed when you shot him in the back.

i can’t breathe

cuz our justice system is out of whack.

i can’t breathe

because so many no longer do,

i can’t breathe

because no Declaration holds me in its truths.

wake me when i matter to you.



but then again,

who cares if I matter to you?

i’m a proud black woman and i won’t go away,

Nigeria and America simultaneously

run through my veins,

i am black–

i matter.

they were black–

they mattered,

we are matter,

protons, electrons and neutrons

by the name of Trayvon,

Amadou, Renisha, Sean;

Oscar, Jordan, Michael, John;

Tamir, Ezell, Kajeime, Yvette;

Eric, Aiyana, the list ain’t done yet…

their names live on because

we are immortal,

we are black;

we are priceless,

we are black;

we are resilient,

we are black;

we are beautiful,

we are black.

we are black.

we are black.

we are black.

and we matter!

5 responses

  1. lilk

    I didn’t know you are descendant of Baba Yinka( bka Herbert Macauley)
    These are excellent words.

    LOL @ you being ‘akata loving’…you love who you love. 🙂

    February 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    • Haha, thanks, Lola!

      February 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

  2. Elizabeth Bradley

    Farah, that poem is beautiful and incredibly powerful!! I think you are our generations Maya Anjelou! Thank you for sending this to me. I absolutely LOVED it!

    February 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    • You’re so sweet, EB. Thank you for your kind words!

      February 3, 2015 at 5:44 pm

  3. Pingback: Reflections on Silence Is Violence: A #BlackLivesMatter Event | TheaterEducates

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