Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “God

God Made You


i believe that when God made you,
He purposed you for me;
chose the curves of your lips carefully
to hug each crevice of my own
so that each time you kiss me,
my soul feels at home.

i believe that when God made you,
He labored over your eyes
until they were bright and brown enough
to look into mine and become a mirror,
allowing me to see my best self
through His view and your help.

i believe that when God made you,
He selected the perfect size and stature for you to fit me
like two pieces of a completed puzzle under a dusty rug,
grown tighter with age so that it would take more than a tug
to separate us.

i believe that when God made you,
He created your heart to be a consoler of my tears;
formed your ears to be caverns for my fears;
manipulated your mouth to be slow to speak until you hear;
beautifully selected your body to be one i revere;
powerfully conceived your existence as proof that He’s near.

i believe that God made you
fearfully, wonderfully,
purposed, intended,
magically, exclusively,
generously
for me.


Could You Spare Some Change?


could you spare some change?
it’s been a while since i’ve been fed,
but i’m still alive and kicking…
at least in my head.

“could you spare some change?”
i whisper quietly as you pass my way,
hoping you’ll notice that
i haven’t been fed today.

could you spare some change?
i know you got other obligations,
but i want to catch you
before my train leaves this station.

could you spare some change?
it might help you to see
that i am not who i appear to be.
i am not a homeless woman standing in the street;
i am the dream that gnaws at you when you can’t fall asleep;
i am the voice in your head that says,
“This job is not for me.”
i am your purpose,
what God intended for you to be;
but it’ll be hard for us to meet
if you can’t afford me.

so i ask again,
could you spare some change?


God’s Softer Side


he kisses me when my nose is snotty,

and doesn’t mind if his face gets wet.

when he’s thirsty, he drinks my tears,

exchanges sugar for salt.

he grabs my love handles

and tickles my stomach,

reminds me that i am not fat,

but blessed.


From the Day We Met (Haikus)


from the day we met,

God has grown closer to me

indefinitely.

 

from the day we met,

past pain doesn’t feel so bad;

smiles have replaced tears.

 

from the day we met,

“more than i ever prayed for”

is how i see life.

 

from the day we met,

i lose myself in laughter

and love feels so good.

 

from the day we met,

each time i look in your eyes,

my heart skips a beat.

 

from the day we met,

my life hasn’t been the same.

i’ll never look back!


A Rape Deferred


if a woman cries rape and police don’t respond,
does the crime make a sound?
a drum beat,
a whisper,
a rushed “Psssttttt!”
a ghetto “Ay yooooooooo!”
a moan,
a scream,
a gasp,
a catching of breath,
a clap,
a stomp,
a hiss,
or leaky faucet “drip-drop”?
does the clock even let out a “tick-tock”
or does time just stop
when a woman’s rights are denied?
with no batteries changed in the watch,
the year could be 5 B.C., 1964, or 2011.
does an angel cry in heaven?
does God send down thunder and rain,
or does he console her quietly through her pain?
is there even a sigh,
a Holy Ghost-filled prayer,
an explosion of violence?
or just silence?


Never-Ending Poem


if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood–
of a little girl whose dark-skinned father
looked at his dark-skinned seed and told her
that there’s a secret to erasing their skin:
“Here, wear this cream and the blackness will go away.
Boys will like you more and jobs will open doors
and people will let you in with smiles.”
i would speak of that little girl-child,
how she listened to her father
and observed her light-skinned, beautiful mother
and rubbed whiteness on her skin,
how lightness did not come,
but instead painful bumps and itchy rash
and tears in the mirror and her dad who said,
“Maybe that one was too strong. I will get you a gentler one.”
the girl who shook her head “No”
and accepted her darker fate…
kind of.

i would speak of that girl
who grew up with big titty-denial,
of the time her best friend pulled her to the side,
looked her in the eye
and told her “Your bra is too small.”
the girl who prayed and prayed for pubic hairs to grow,
who searched her mom’s medicinal herb books
for a recipe to start menses.
“Maybe if I drink a tea or take a vitamin,
blood will come and I’ll be a woman.”
blood came in its time
and so did boys
who ignored her face and got lost in her breasts.
as years went on,
they got lost in her booty, her hips.
more years went on
and they got lost in her smile, her eyes, her skin.
more years went on
and they got lost in her hair.
more years went on and they got lost in her “no”
that was too quiet.

i would speak of her insecurities
that helped men mold her like clay
into a woman who appeared strong with a mean face,
but crumbled like wet sand castles upon touch;
a woman who craved touch so much
that it hurt her
so she exchanged touch for God,
then back for touch,
then back for God,
then back for touch,
then traded it back for God,
and then back for touch,
and then back for more touch,
and then back for touch,
and then who was God?
there was only touch.
and then touch got too much
and then what was God?
and then touch fucked her up
and then where was God?
i mean “Who is God?”
i mean “What is God?”
i mean…”There is God!”
“Here is God!”
“Wait…where is God?”
i would speak of her questions
that rolled on and on,
her definitions that changed,
and how she got different,
but stayed the same.

if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood,
of my own stories,
those of my sisters
and all the things we’ve seen,
felt, loved, cried over, laughed about,
screamed about,
of moments where death wasn’t near enough,
and then those times where love filled us up
but i’m afraid
time just isn’t enough,
our stories are too much,
my voice would dry up.


Despite Poetry


if i could drown in your sweat,
asphyxiation wouldn’t be bad,
appealing even.
i would swim in the bliss
that you’ve graciously given me,
salty water from brown skin
that despite poetry,
i cannot describe vividly enough–
strong like boulders, yet soft
as my hardened shoulders become
when you make me laugh.
tension releases as i breaststroke
through sweat flowing from your throat–
your affirming voice,
calmly speaking depths of my life’s meaning:

so THAT is why i had to cry,
experience heartache and shame,
renounce God’s name
and learn how to say it again,
this time honestly
so that when i saw Him in you,
i would recognize glory and majesty.

i am a queen in training,
but i bow to you,
create love to you,
create love for you
and me to share greedily,
that despite poetry,
i cannot describe vividly enough.


All of Me


Sometimes my fellow poetry bloggers will write something so thought-provoking or inspiring, that I can’t help but respond in poetry. One poet I admire, Malcolm James Furst, did so yesterday (see my About section) and caused me to write the poem you see below. I’ve decided to call it “All of Me”:

Mr. Furst,

if i could be half on stage
what i am on page,
i am not sure if i would have the need
for poems.

you see, the true me is so scary,
a sight not to be looked at with unprotected eyes,
like Moses staring at God for the first time;
so instead of revealing my true self in person,
i write.
and in that writing,
there is so much room and space to be me
that my honesty starts dancing
without caring who’s looking.

i mean,
i get into a groove
to an ever-changing beat in my own head–
forget two-stepping!
i move in free verses still i start sweatin,
til my permed hair starts thickening
or my afro starts shrinking
or my weave starts frizzing;
til the winding of my waist becomes dizzying;
til i’m the last one on the floor
and lights are being turned out
and janitors start mopping around my feet
and even the wetness of the soapy water inspires me.

and all that is left is poetry.
and reality.
and all of me.


Accidental Epiphany


on a sunny summer day
at one of my lowest points,
i walked alongside a river
and casually considered jumping in
as a way to end my pain.

i stopped moving for a moment
and took notice of the beauty
that coursed through everything around me.
the water danced in ripples back and forth,
and in it, ducks swam.
they were so precious and careless and abundant.

it occurred to me
that if God could create this life-giving body of water
that flowed before me,
and could take care of creatures so much smaller than me,
then of course,
he would watch over and provide for me.

an epiphany–
when overused cliche words
finally became real
all because of pain
i didn’t want to feel.


Retrospect for God


i think in life,
some people are just meant to go through things.
and for whatever reason,
one of those people is me.

even though he allows me to get beat,
i know he loves me.
even though my heart breaks,
only to be put together again
so it can fall apart in new ways,
i know he will always be there
with a roll of duct tape.
although he sees me cry
and is sometimes the source of tears,
i know that i am my happiest with him
and there is no one else i would rather fear.

abusive lover of my soul,
if only they could see the bruises i hide
behind make-up and made-up moods and affectations.
if only they knew how i face more mornings than i can mention
with hesitation, afraid
to even open my eyes to see the reality before me,
thinking that some days would be better spent sleeping,
dreaming of a better next week,
skipping over tomorrow;
longing for laughter louder than
the heaviness of sorrow;
hoping that my scars will one day heal
and one day you will
stop allowing me to get so beat.

but i think it mean just means that you love me…
right?


Still Born


i feel frozen,
hard to do anything,
not justified in joy,
stuck in anxiety,
crying while running
because there is no time for stopping.

my mother,
example of strength,
template for beauty,
example of generosity,
standard of selflessness,
feeling of family,
antidote for insanity
is struggling.

my soul is still connected
by an invisible umbilical cord
feeding me medication and hope
and faith and pain
and they course through my veins
as i try to maintain
with a smile on my face
but i’m losing some weight
and my mind can’t erase
how life shouldn’t be this way.

but what do i know?
i am a mere embryo
floating in a world outside of my control,
sharing the same heartbeat as the woman who birthed me,
questioning, wondering, still living,
always praying
that our loud cries make it up to God’s big ears
that can’t possibly be deaf.


Happy Medium


is there a happy medium between
fully following God
and running away from him,
fleeing desperately in the opposite direction?
if there is,
i think it is called
“life”.


That’s The Way Love Goes…Revisited


like a crackhead to the pipe,
burned by the fire,
i hate romance and crave it…
on what day did God create desire?

that’s how my heart goes…


If This Is


beauty meets tears
and invites them to a dance with steps
only memorized by the magnificent.
if this is history,
then i wonder what tomorrow will feel like.
if this is reality,
then how peaceful will my dreams be
when i close my eyes tonight?
if this is joy,
then i cannot wait to experience love.
the thought of it gives me goosebumps and fear
because my heart is already swollen
with pride.
it beats louder than ever.
i am alive again.
i didn’t even know i was sleepwalking
until now i have experienced
real life–
the emotion, the struggle, the achievements
and all that could happen
by just believing.
overwhelmed i am
so blessed i am
here i am
free,
breathing, feeling,
being, existing,
growing, changing,
praising.

i thought God was absent
so i could only imagine
how great would His presence would feel like.


Love Me


i want you to love me,
not in that agape unconditional love type way,
but that “please baby please baby please” type way,
that get on your knees and pray
that God answers and allows us
to cross paths again type way,
that you remember my birthday
without Facebook or Myspace type way.
i want to be the last thought on your mind before you sleep
and that hot, sexy dream that wakes you
to make you change your sheets.
i want you to love me,
to wanna meet my mama, my daddy,
my siblings, friends, teachers, coworkers, distant cousins,
neighbors, acquaintances and fellow students,
not so you can stalk me,
but possibly learn how to have an influence
on my life so that one day,
you’ll be in that repertoire of
people to meet.
i want you to love me past my body
and baby, i know it’s banging
and you want to bang me
but here’s a thought–
make love to my insecurities and fears;
thrust your love deep inside to make me cum so hard
that they shake and disappear.
make my soul and future curl so tight
that if this is wrong,
i don’t wanna be right
and if this is dark,
then God shouldn’t let there be light
and because you always make my day,
i never want it to be night.
i don’t even know who you are yet
but i want you to love me,
to confirm that love lasts and exists
outside of stories and movies.
show me the positive side of life
that accompanies love
and maybe you’ll reaffirm my faith
with the Lord above
if i can see right before my eyes
just what it is that He does
and be able once more in my life
to let go
and let love.


Un-Masterpiece


this poem won’t be remembered.
i guarantee it won’t be a masterpiece
but it very well may be
the most honest piece
of writing i have yet to complete.

there’s a passion burning in me
so strong and fiery
that i can’t do daily activities
because my fingers are singed with third degree burns
of what God whispered to me.
i would do it for free,
scour the streets looking for pennies to sustain me
and eat crumbs that fall from heaven
if that was all there was to feed me…
hypothetically.

the truth is that my pride consumes me
as does fear.
i lack faith that i will ever do any better
than what exists here
and can’t trust that which i don’t see.
does that make me faithless?
maybe,
possibly,
or more frankly,
certainly.
i lost trust in a God that i loved because
He disappointed me
and i can’t help but think that if He,
all knowing and loving
let me face such pain and anguish,
that life can’t get any better
than it is now.

i am Atlas,
pushing a boulder that threatens to crush me.
i am Jonah,
stuck in the belly of a whale of irresponsibility.
i wish i could be Jesus
but sacrifice seems just too much for me.
the passion burns me
and i possess the hose to put myself out
but don’t believe the water will really shoot out.
so i walk with half empty buckets
held by a broomstick across my back
and earn splinters in my shoulders and neglect that causes death
all because i am too scared to live.

what kind of punishment is this?
self-inflicted.
what kind of nonsense is this?
ruled by fear,
ignited by dreams
that seem too far away to touch
because i am afraid to reach.


Make Me Skinny


God, please make me skinny.
remember when i was little girl
and i had long limbs like Twiggy?
well now i got a big ol’ booty, wide hips and overpowering titties
and i just wanna be skinny.
remember when i was younger
and i had long limbs like Twiggy?
and i asked you for some sexy, my period and titties?
well i take that back–
just make me skinny
so i can walk without the guilt of curves,
the memories built in to the angles of my hips
that remember hands that sat there and lips that kissed
and arms that grabbed and hearts that beat as one
and the fun i used to have watching my womanhood blossom.
now i wish i could be a little girl again,
pre-pubescent so i can start over again
with the knowledge of today wrapped around my head
like bandages to control the bleeding
from lies i’ve been fed
like “growing up is fun”
and “you should try everything at least once.”
God, please be kind and rewind
and remember the time
when i had long limbs like Twiggy
and make me skinny.


Listen


listen.
you strain your voice, calling God incessantly.
if you spoke quietly, you would hear that he’s already
talking to you.
he operates rhythmically like your heartbeat,
coursing and consistent as the blood being pumped
throughout your whole system.
like oxygen in your lungs,
he is airy and light and moving,
waiting for the point when we are attentive
instead of missing him,
dismissing him
by choosing talking over listening,
picking ignorance, which is life threatening
and our own words,
which are deafening.


Candy Store Love


my big sis who i admire
laughingly told me that she’s thankful
God married her off early
because truth be told,
if He didn’t, she would be
a hoe and a half.

then i laughingly, but honestly told her
that it’s better God didn’t marry me off early
because if He did, i would be
a headache and a half.
and not only that, but also
a cheater.
i’m halfway ashamed to admit that,
to confess that i still view life as a candy store
and every day my tastes change:

sometimes i want chocolate, lots of it….
smooth, rich and soft.
the kind so delicious
that i let it melt in my hands on purpose
so i can lick it off
my fingers then let it live on
my tongue
right before i lay down to sleep
so that when i wake up, i still taste the
flavor in the morning;
darkness so attractive and velvety and sweet
to the point that it kind of hurts my teeth
when i bite into it.
i sometimes want love so strong
that i get in fights with my dentist
because each time i visit,
i have more cavities and he keeps warning me
to slow down as to not rot my teeth
with the indulgence of one
who is just too much for me.

then other days,
i’m in the mood for bubble gum.
the kind that is yummy and fruity
when i first taste it,
but after it gets stale in a little while,
i can without reservation
just spit it out
and unwrap a new piece.
no commitment because each taste
is just a piece
of a sequence of satisfaction
ruled by the cravings of me.
i can hang on a little longer than necessary
if i want
or discard the love i have chewed up
while multitasking
and not even have to listen
when he is asking
why our love has dried up.

i want my love to be sweet and colorful,
sugary and tangy,
different with every taste.
so the idea of marriage at this time
sounds like kind of a waste.
i do not by any means
view this type of union
as absurd or senseless
for one day, i want to be a Mrs.
rather than an M-I-S-S
but as i grow to know me,
i see that less and less
do i want to be held down
by having the same dessert daily.
i want love to entertain me
like a court jester where i am the queen
who can yell “Off with his head!”
whenever the excitement is dead.

i am selfish and a little gluttonous,
kind of greedy
and hate the monotonous
but slowly, i am maturing,
hoping that i will surpass the days
when i am a little girl
with eyes bigger than her stomach
and care about my diet–
cut out the unnecessary sugar
and focus on nutrients,
feed myself on what is good for me
and only have time for what nourishes me
and treat those i encounter
as humans
rather than distractions on a counter
of a life that i have not even begun to live yet
and still have a little room
for chocolate.

candy-store-love


Victim vs. Victimizer


i used to be so afraid of you, man.
my biggest fear for so long
was running into you on a dark street,
alone and scared with no one to help me
and no options of what to do;
that i would be forced to be victim once more
to the fleeting whims
you love to succumb to.

but you looked so weak–
more like a house mouse than a dirty rat,
more afraid of me than i am of you.
as you stood staring at me, i smelled that
fear was seeping out of your pores
and your pheromones filled the air,
and just like how you treated me–
they stunk.
but they gave me strength to continue
to stand taller
and feel stronger
as you stared at the woman whose life you ruined
for a little while but whose smile
now lives on.

i have become superhuman.
i am stretching back to the size
i’m supposed to be in this world,
reclaiming my territory
that you so selfishly stole,
and now you have no control.
what you did
has no control.
the pain you caused
has no control.
growing my strength and power
is my ultimate goal
and i am closer to it now
more than ever.

arch nemesis,
i’ve fantasized for many days and nights
of the different ways i could end your life,
but now i laugh at you.
you thought you would ruin me,
tried to take the best of me,
but now if finally see
that God was just preparing me.
where i’m going
i gotta have my powers to know
that whatever blow comes my way,
i’m meant to feel the pain today
so that i can see tomorrow clearly.
tomorrow, i will look at the scars of tears and sorrow
and not repeat the mistakes of yesterday
but fly away without looking back.

thank you for helping me
sprout wings on my back.


I Used to Pray


i swear i used to pray daily
but then one evening before i went to sleep,
i stood up and saw that the skin on my knees
was crackly like sandpaper.
so i stopped stooping down so far to the ground
and prayed laying down
but i would be traveling to far away towns of REM sleep
before i would even complete thoughts
or say “Amen”
and then
i’d be awake and what i wanted to ask for would not be.
it’s been so long that i’m scared God won’t wanna hear from me
like he’ll find my voice ugly
or unrecognizable and tell me i dialed the wrong number
that i should try again and next time call my selfishness
and if she hangs up,
reach out to my cynicism
and get on three-way with my doubt
and click over and talk to vulgarity
because she is always on the other line.
i stay up for hours every night talking on the phone
to the identities of mine that have made a home
in my psyche.
i’ve sent eviction notices but they won’t leave,
tormenting my every steps
and i never know what will come next
and all the fighting leaves me perplexed
and unable to bend down to my knees again
for wanting to avoid the experience
of hurting myself by hoping
for the uncertain.


Prayer of the Lost


i am lost,
i know i am.
i drop to my knees and fold my hands
and close my eyes and clear my mind
and wait for the Lord to speak
and hear absolutely…
nothing.
i clasp my fingers tighter as my legs fall asleep
and get an ache in my wrists
from waiting for Him
to remind me that He
really exists
and still there’s not a sound.
my legs sink deeper into the quicksand of the ground
that has claimed more lives it seems
than the God in my dreams.
i think of a homeless man i saw near rainy midnight,
jogging between lanes of a busy street,
flailing his arms as headlights shone
in the puddles by his feet
and he screamed at the approaching wheels,
begging them to slide over his misery
so that he could float high into the sky,
free from thunder and lightning
and finally see the God i’m inviting
in on my prayers.
i know where that man is
even though i am here,
not confident anymore
to drop to my knees;
not focused anymore
to listen for a voice that has nodules in its throat,
perhaps it’s hoarse
from coaxing me out of past pain
and needing to remind me of lessons
already learned again and again,
probably tired from my ignorance and illiteracy
in reading the signs of what is good and bad for me.
my knees ache,
the mushy ground shakes,
i’ve made some mistakes
and don’t know how to pray.
i want smiles to stay and God to be awake
and to escape the nightmare
of ignored prayers,
wake up and no longer be here
but where i was, whatever that was,
maybe that’s why i was
on the path to where i am now.
maybe this is how
genuine communication feels.
one person begging and the other not even real,
imaginary in the circumstance of caring,
devoid of the quality of sharing,
and blankly staring
as i break down the innards of my heart
hoping that the God i think is listening
will recognize the random parts
and find some sort of consistency
and give me a reason to drop down to my knees another day
and pray.


Pointing Fingers


pointing-fingersif one day God had to point his
larger than life finger
at the group of his creations
that he considered to be
the weak,
who would they be?

i would hope not me…

i would pray through whispers in his ears
that he would see
all he has allowed my back to bear.
like two full buckets of water
tied to a broomstick of over my shoulders,
i have done slave labor through pains
with each year i have grown older.
i’ve got a tree on my back from the plantation of life
and it branches out in the weirdest ways, like
how i laugh at things that didn’t used to be funny
and how i get used to postponed plans
due to lack of money
and how the only green on my leaves
stems from envy of those
who dare to move beyond the scars of trees.

actually,
God better not point that finger at me
because my strength is what has allowed me to be
where i am right now.
i think back to how i never thought i’d reach right now
and how i’ve mud wrestled with demons
who try to break me down.
even when the wet sticky dirt gets slung in my eyes,
i rub them and see past hopelessness,
let the stinging tears fall
as i envision all of my journey–
cobblestoned and unpaved,
slick and wet like unfinished cement
and full of more potholes and speed bumps
than i’d choose to drive over
and just when i thought it was over…

i feel fingers pointing at me

but they’re not from God..
they’re scrawny and dirty under the nails
and they come from the hands of this girl
named myself
who is trying to figure out her dwelling place
on the barometer of the weak,
not seeing that she doesn’t even fit
into this cage of mercury…

i burst past thermometer meters
because my hotness reaches temperatures
higher than hell during code red weather with
one million people dancing and vibing together while
all shouting at the same time with
sweat rolling down their backs
and they’re all wearing black.
i’m strong like every single mother
who has been disappointed but still takes care of home,
like the person on their deathbed
who pulls through and lives on,
like the girl in the mirror who asks a silly question,
hoping for confirmation that
God isn’t pointing fingers
but wrapping arms,
shielding me from my own extremities
that mean to do me harm.


This Moment in History


i used to think the phrase,
“you can do anything you set your mind to”
was a cliche
until today.
on more days than i could count,
i politely asked God to take me out,
to remove misery from my life
and leave me to die.
today i rejoice because
i am not history,
but here to witness a moment
that is so much bigger than me.
my heart beats out of my chest,
not for the prospect of the future,
but the reality of today.
i thank God for waking me up once more
to see history before me,
for proving cliches right
and for giving me this night
where it was proved to me
that it might be the truth
that whatever it is i set to accomplish,
i can do.

this-moment-in-history