Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “hope

Love Letter to My Dreams


to get to you,
i will jump–
no–dive–
into an ice cold pool,
not knowing how to swim well, stay in my lane
or hold my breath for a long time;
not knowing the difference
between a breast stroke and butterfly,
only having a loose plan to freestyle
and hope i make it
with my pure unadulterated desire,
naive hope
that somehow,
i’ll stay afloat.
they may need to push me in,
but damnit,
when that time comes
i’ll happily oblige,
doggy paddle for miles and miles,
tread water just for the chance
of grabbing a thread of the fiber of you,
that same fiber that makes me
me.

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Art Failed Me


art failed me.
i held so many high hopes for art
that when i finally reached the top of art’s slope
and slipped,
i realized that i was climbing a shaky mountain,
not a solid volcano waiting
to erupt;
i was entering an empty house of dominoes
begging to be provoked.

i loved art,
but it failed me,
forced me to become more than
a spectator and practitioner
and tricked me into being
an indentured servant/slave/disgruntled worker/
disillusioned mate
infatuated with a partner
that ejaculates before i am satisfied.

art failed me because it does not produce
unless i get off my caboose
and do.
art failed me because it made me cry
the last time i was so inspired at what i saw
that i not only asked “Why?”
but “What can I do?”

art failed me because it stepped into my life
right when i had gotten chummy with the idea
of mediocrity.
just as i walked into the tattoo parlor
ready to ink the word “Normal” on my skin,
art busted in
and picked for me an indecipherable,
permanent symbol instead.

art failed me because it pointed out
the specks of dust in a seemingly perfect,
white world;
dared me to look in the eyes of people i’d rather ignore;
invited me to evaluate the very essence of my being
and be honest with my scoring;
summoned me to settle the score with myself;
instructed me to know myself
and walk with that knowledge.
i wanted to float in ignorance,
swim in the bliss that comes when one is so content
that “more” is not even a fantasy,
but something to be feared.

but art failed me.
and for that,
i am strangely
in love.


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.


Pyrophobiac


there are some people who honestly believe that
if they focus intently enough,
they can make the flame of a candle
rise and fall with their thoughts.
much too often, i have been a fool,
played the fool for that same trap,
thinking that i can create sparks in acquainted hearts,
mistaking kindness for interest
and my loneliness for the possibility of love.
once a pyromaniac,
i now flee from fire,
keep an extinguisher on my back
and with it, i aim and fire
at possibilities,
the potential for romantic stories,
trapped in the fog of my history,
chest burning too painfully to see reality.
i no longer even attempt to stare,
have substituted my gaze for a blank empty glare
like a blind woman who has miraculously regained her sight
but still wears sunglasses because
she’s used to not opening her eyes.

is my fear that the future is too bright
or that all will be white?
absence of color,
absence of hope,
no patience to stare at fire,
seeking another foolish hobby
like solitude.


History Unstuck


on November 4, 2008,
the evening of election day
CNN projected that Barack Obama
was the candidate
who had won.

surrounded by cheers, i couldn’t celebrate,
sayin, “these suckas done stole the election once”
so i’ll scream and shed tears when this whole thing is done–
afraid to get my hopes up
because hope takes audacity
and when i look at history,
we were dismissed.

defined as inferior,
spent days familiar
with crops, working fields,
rarely seeing interiors,
unless it was the interior
of slave shacks, you know,
nights with master on slave woman’s back,
birthing babies that lacked
a sense of family
because brokenness was the system,
spreading confusion so that to be black
almost equated with being victim;
pulled from homelands and sold on blocks
was the way to do things,
auctioning off humans like art or antique rings.
we were beaten,
scars forming shapes of trees on backs
with branches not long enough for us to climb
but deep enough for them to find
their way into souls that birthed generations of babies
still feeling the sting of whips.

we were whipped into shape
on the day emancipation came
so slaves became men,
no longer four fifths
just always dismissed,
debt staying constant
no money in pockets,
still poor but at least there was a trap door
that could be closed and opened at night
to see crosses burning at night
who knew shadows could be white?
“Mama, they look like ghosts…”
threatened hearts beat with fright
and sometimes they even cry
but you can’t hear them as well
when vocal cords are constricted by ropes
as unprotesting eyes look forward.

but we had to look back,
thirsty, but certain water fountains would lack
the fluid to match our skin color;
so we had to look back,
to learn what happens to dreams deferred and wonder if they fester;
so we had to look back
to brave souls like soldiers who sat at segregated lunch counters;
so we had to look back,
to hear the voices of prophets like Dr. King,
turning our ears to the past
so that we could hear freedom ring
and echo in our dreams and perhaps become fact.
look back to Malcolm X and his place in history,
even if you don’t agree,
he inspired our reality.

we were beautiful,
growing stronger with each casualty,
pulling strength from the act of burying,
being replenished by hoses with water pressuring
us to stop
but the clock ticked on.
we were beautiful and so was black
and we were vocal, using platforms to speak so many truths
that lies got scared and shook in their boots
and found a way to crack us–
crack broke some backs of us,
money ruled some of the best of us,
and soon our scariest enemies were…us.

but us wasn’t all bad and never was,
because all that there ever was
to identify us was our skin
and that one drop of blood,
like light rain on a window pane
romantic to some, but to others
it’s just rain,
without which the earth couldn’t survive.
showers on our heads keep dreams alive,
but sometimes i stay dry,
feeling that it’s better to suffocate hope
than try to keep her alive
but on that night,
November 4, 2008
tears filled my eyes and the weather changed
and the course of history finally turned the page.
no longer did i have to look back,
thinking of the way we were
but i had to look forward.

i had to look forward
with binoculars on my eyes,
seeing the prospect of a black president
the spirit of yes we can, yes we did
and we’ll do it again;
fueled by inspiration,
truth defying times are in my eyes,
joy fills my heart
and my soul cries out with gratitude
oh the magnitude
of what we used to be
and what we have become.


Heardened Hearts Haiku


hardened hearts do change.
they soften with the hope that
they can love again.


I Have a Secret


i have a secret, but don’t tell nobody.
i want you to…

kiss me.

maybe it was the spark in your eye
or the fact that night was crawling upon us,
tickling the side of my neck,
but as i glanced at you,
i wished i could be honest
and reach over and speak to you
with my lip language
to find out if you were fluent.

but maybe you know more than me.
open up your classroom and i’ll be your student,
the one who knows everything and nothing
at the same time.
i will be first in line
to register for your class and sit in the front
every Monday thru Friday
and pass notes with drawn hearts connecting
your name and my name
and raise my hand always
so you can look my way.

i have a secret, but don’t tell nobody.
those who know me well know
that i don’t like to be controlled
or told what to do,
but i want you to…

take me.

do with me what you wish to
as long as i get to…

kiss you,

connect my sense of touch
with the mental satisfaction you’ve thus
provided so far because
so far,
you’ve pulled my desire like a shoe string
and i’m secretly hoping
that the next time i see you,
you’ll see through
what my eyes try to hide
and honor me for just one time
and promise that this secret
will be yours and mine
and our lips combined
will be…

sealed.