Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “failure


i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.

this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.

my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.

but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
slips away.

i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.

but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…

and sometimes i still



plans frustrate me,
always talked about
but never really sorted out.
the steps and time to accomplish
is never estimated properly
so plans become broken
and i am broken
without a hammer, glue, or plan
to fix myself.

What Am I Afraid Of?

i’m so scared of pursuing my dreams.
i don’t know what it is that
i’m really afraid of.
it’s not failure
because i know what that feels like
and i have learned enough strength and felt enough strain
to stiffen my back and jaw
and start over again.
is it success?
not quite sure.
i rather enjoy the opening of new doors
and my brain craves the territories i could possibly explore.
i think what it boils down to is that
i am afraid of me.
i am not only unaware of my own potential,
but my own depths.
i usually only express the surface level of each facet,
afraid to drill in deep.
i am a frozen body of water–
when my ice is broken,
my disturbingly cold interior is endless
and i’m scared it’ll kill me.
not literally, but figuratively
to state it simply
i am afraid
of me.

New York

in a big city,
i feel so small
while wanting to take up space.
i see myself there
and get scared,
afraid of my own potential,
turned off by potential failures and setbacks
but still wanting to step back
to my dreams and go after them.
my day will come, i know
but i get tired of imagining
a day that can come sooner if only
i stop living in my head
and start being active in my life.
much talk, little progress
but i will turn over a new leaf
in this fall of my life
and hope for the season
when my plans will bloom like flowers
and successes will fall like April showers
and my heart will be content and alive
like springtime.
the summer of this stage is ending
while autumn is beginning,
a happy and bittersweet beginning.