Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “fight

The Power of “Yes”


your eyes reveal as you look down at me
that with your shy politeness,
you could give me
my “yes” back.
my “no” has been ignored in the past,
pushed down so far that screams turned into gasps
and fight melted into surrender,
but for some reason,
i don’t feel like fighting when i see you.
i feel like saying “yes”
and enjoying the way it comes off of my tongue,
how the middle of it raises to the roof of my mouth
to make the “y” sound
and how i have to open my teeth
and let a piece of you in for the “e”
and how my “s” turns to a smile
when you’re around.
yes,
i may let you in and
yes,
the spark in my eye was born when i saw you
and yes,
maybe one day i’ll whisper sweet somethings in your ear
and yes,
i might be silly and imagining that a connection is even here
for you to even ask a question
that would require a positive affirmation
but just in case you do,
my breath, my mouth and my soul
will be ready.


Throw Shoes


i wish i was brave enough to throw shoes
and yell out the truth.
i am a quiet soldier,
one who wears a uniforms with ribbons of
unknown significance.
one who marches and stomps loudly
only when among comrades
but when in enemy territory, holds back,
fearing that people might get mad and attack.
i have guns that i don’t know how to use,
and am still too scared to throw shoes,
bullets i am scared to load
and fingers that are too shaky to pull triggers.
i get smaller as fear gets bigger.
i shrink and my mind deadens
and my heart slows and the next thing you know,
i am not even a fighter at all,
would be exaggerating to even call myself
a soldier.


Two Sides


there are two sides of me
that live simultaneously
while dynamically,
diametrically opposed to one another.
they live inside and they fight,
bruising each other with shuddering blows
and when i wake up in the morning,
between my blackened eyes and broken nose,
i don’t even know
which one will show her pretty or ugly face.
there’s the side of me who
enters parties and lights up the whole place
with bubbly personality;
but then there’s the quiet side
who sits in dark corners while others dance wildly
and chooses to talk to nobody
as she writes poetry.

which one is really me?

one is open and the other is closed off.
one enjoys life to the fullest
and the other is always pissed off.
i want desperately to remove the sleeves
of these confused parts of me
but i need them to keep out the cold.
the one on the left is short
and the one on the right is long
but the experience of feeling varying degrees of warmth
has made me strong.
i walk around lopsided and unbalanced,
harnessing and throwing away my talent,
treating my body as a temple
and an alley with empty liquor bottles and blunt roaches
until that day approaches
when the fact that
there are two me’s won’t have consequences
and i’ll be able to look in mirrors
and recognize the girl i see.
and i will marvel in the beauty
and complexity of she,
one human being with different facets
that all make up
me.


Me…It’s What’s For Dinner


SATURN DEVOURING HIS CHILDREN (1824) by Francisco de Goya.

i am a lovely dish
on a porcelain dinner plate.
who has the pleasure of devouring me tonight?
is it lust?
on some nights, that answer would be right,
but this time the diner is one
with a more refined taste.
his name is ambition
and he drools as he stares at my face.
he prefers to eat me raw like oysters on a half shell,
relishes in my taste and puts me through hell.
i wish the roles were reversed–
that i could be sitting in a fine dining establishment
and order plates of ambition to my heart’s content.
i would eat like a glutton and be worry-free,
having taken control of what controls me.
but of course this is just a dream–
ambition bites my head so i can’t concentrate,
then he plays with my body as he scrapes the plate.
is it too late to decide
that i don’t want to be consumed?
or will i forever be confined
to this miserable doom?
i am food,
meant to be chewed and digested
by plans that i myself suggested.
although it hurts to be bitten
by my own brainchild,
there’s no place i’d rather be right now.
i am in a time of transition,
not fully cooked
but attractive enough to be eaten,
strong enough to be on the plate
and not lying in a corner beaten.
i have this plan…
since i taste rather delicious,
once ambition has scarfed me down
and scraped all the dishes,
i will cause a chemical reaction in his insides
and play with the pool
where his stomach acid resides.
i will swim there and cause a riot
until he realizes all too late
that he can’t tolerate me in his diet.
from there he will regurgitate
and i will come out victorious
before it’s too late.
i am not just a lovely dish
on a porcelain dinner plate,
but one who has learned to wait
until the appropriate time and hour to fight.

i am not one to be devoured.
i sit at the table tonight
and i have the power.


Coming of Age


my fingertips stink of formaldehyde.
i have dipped them in a jar of “ALMOSTS.”
the container holds
truth that was on the tip of my tongue that
couldn’t escape when i chose
to keep my mouth shut.
in it also soaks
chances that could have been taken
but were not fulfilled due to fear.
swimming in the jar are dreams that seem
so far out of reach
that i’ve learned to not speak them aloud
for fear that i will be broken
by my own impending failure.

my fingertips stink of formaldehyde
because i am too timid
to stick my whole hand in
and way too polite
to pour all of the contents out,
hold them in my hands and soon discover that
these fingers are long enough
to wrap around my fear,
that this grip is strong enough
to sustain me even if i fall
and that formaldehyde is only there
to preserve all that seems out of reach
today
so that my dreams of being free can be maintained
until i am ready.

the process stinks
but the reward will be so sweet.
the smell lingers on my fingers–
my twiddling thumbs that inform me
that one day, i’m gonna get some courage
to break that damn jar.
forget reaching or gripping–
my hands can destroy too.
they can tear down, rip apart, smash away
that stupid wall that demarcates my happiness,
red-lines my life.
they can forge the path
and be the first step in my claim
that this world is mine.
these fears are no longer my oppressor.

i can fight back.


The Miracle of Inspiration


have you ever been so inspired that your body goes into shock?
like regular thought becomes as difficult as
a mandatory marathon to run right after
stuffing your face at Mickey D’s
and regardless of how hard you lift and drop your feet to
move miles away from the inspiration,
it chases you and reminds you to breathe
in and out the fresh air of new ideas.
ideas are like sewing machines,
systematically stitching together
the ripped up pieces of my life.
it’s simple–
that break-up was a zipper and
that trauma was a button and
graduating from college was a French seam,
a rare kind of luxuruy.

after receiving the aforementioned inspiration,
i came home to find that my diploma arrived that day–
evidence that after 6 years of undergrad,
i finally did graduate.
the diploma sat in a slim cylindirical cardboard cage
tightly locked by metal on both sides like a jail cell,
showing me that the things worth fighting for
are often attained by busting through doors.
my father pried at this almost impossible-to-open container
with a knife barely able to contain
his excitement
to witness firsthand the evidence
of his oldest daughter’s accomplishment.
he noted that he was more anxious than me
and worked carefully,
cutting around the metal circle on what he guessed was the up-side.
when he finally gets it open, he slides
the shiny thick piece of paper rolled up like a poster out
and begins to read each Old English font typed word out
loud.
his eyes tear up when he gets to the name
that he gave me almost 24 years before:
Farah Lolade Lawal,
which literally means
“Joy” “Wealth has come” “The first”
and i stop being stuck on my earlier inspiration.
then i realize that i am his inspiration
and that i am living out dreams he never could.
i too get excited about the piece of paper that was paid for
by thousands of dollars, tears and sleepless nights.
so reading in unison with my Daddy like we did when i was 5,
i begin to appreciate every letter, word, phrase and signature
and i vow on this night
to continue to reach for greatness,
to not only be inspired by others but
to be inspiration.


Black Nostalgia


old black men love me
when i appear in their view,
eyes get brighter and burdens don’t feel
as heavy,
the corners of their mouths awaken because
when they see me
they see the 70’s.
i am reminiscent of another era,
of times of relaxation, groove, and black pride,
a time when black women took pride
in how they were born and contemporary times
hadn’t yet made them ashamed of their backsides.
hips celebrated while struttin down streets in hot pants,
quality music rotating on records so smoothly that life was a dance.
i wish i could go back
to this time i never knew,
pull out some afro sheen and a pick and
not have to feel like my hair and personality is too big and
exchange my stretch jeans and MAC lipstick for
a leather jacket and hope that my people would never forget
that black is beautiful!

i wish i could be a soul sista,
you know the type of sista
who lives on movie posters like Pam Grier
rockin sexy outfits and not scared
to walk alone at night.
you know the type of sista
who lives in documentaries
like Angela Davis, rollin with revolutionaries
to serve and protect the black community,
standing up against the ills of society,
willing to go to jail if it means
keeping up the fight.

i wish i could be a soul sista,
providing more than just twinkles in eyes
and smiles as my elders sweetly say “Hi”
not to me, but to their past.
i wish i could go back
to that time i never knew and retract
all the wrongs of today and extract
all the joys of yesterday,
using my afro and skin to honor and celebrate
the black nostalgia in old black men
who love me.