Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “identity

Battle of the Sexes


hardened as i may try to be,
i can’t run away from the fact
that i am in fact,
a woman.
i am strong without a doubt,
able to do whatever i set my mind to,
but inside i am soft as tissue,
sensitive like scarred skin,
delicate as seraphim and cherubim
and spend my energy cherishing
everyone around me.
sometimes the weather gets cloudy
and i forget my anatomy,
think i have pecs instead of breasts,
a mustache above my lips,
unrecognizable hips
and a voice deep and rich as chocolate.

but i am not this basic idea or definition.
i am the kiss on your forehead when your confidence is missing.
i am the gentle touch when trouble gets to be too much
and the loving ear that will always be there.
i care.
i am the mirror on the wall that tells you all,
the pep in your step to take you from one success to the next.
i am a woman,
mother of creation,
removed from your rib so that your stomach is a little empty
so that when you get hungry, you’ll know that you need me.
i am the appetizer, main course, and dessert,
the one that you love but still tend to hurt,
the one who loves you but still likes to search
for herself outside of your help.

i am not the same as you.
we complement each other like orange and blue,
like honey and dew,
sweet and tickling.
oh, what a feeling
to stop pretending
and start claiming
my womanhood.

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Me Chaser


like lost keys,
as soon as i stopped looking,
i breathed
and found me.
always thinking i was scattered,
i searched under pillow cushions and dark corners,
in the bottom of wine glasses and backs of refrigerators,
Googled my full name a thousand times
looking for a sign to point me
in the direction of my identity;
have even spent hours in front of the mirror naked,
examining every inch of my body;
have written freely without censoring,
spoken quickly without listening,
and through all that,
was still wondering who i am,
where i was at.
and somehow,
as simply as possible,
i decided to stop searching so hard for myself
and just be
and just like that,
i found me
and she is amazing.


Little Girl, Big Shoes


little-girl-big-shoes

i feel like a fake adult,
like how i did when i was a little girl
and put on daddy’s shoes and flopped around
trying to fill them,
but grateful that i was too small
to make them fit.
now i’m tired of this,
ungrateful for being so tight with my youth
that people think we’re best friends who refuse
to separate.
i am the siamese twin
whose head is split between two entities
and now i have to choose surgery to free my energy
from being drained between home and me.

i love my family
but still have so much farther to go
before i fully know me,
outside of the identity
i created with them.
who will i be without
the ones who care to listen
to the boring details of my day
or who can look in my tear-filled eyes
and assure me that it’ll be okay
and have me actually believe them?
who will i be outside of my environment,
my comfortable element,
my indigenous habitat where i roam kind of free?
i’m scared i’ll become extinct
or act like an unknown species,
a mix of good family values and broken pieces
of the world i tried to put together on my own
but clumsily slipped out of my hands.

maybe my hands aren’t strong enough
to carry the weight that has been on my shoulders
and in my heart
but unless i start testing how much i can hold,
i will never really know.


Why I Do It


i do it because
i have lives inside of me
that would commit suicide if they couldn’t get out.
their stories scream out whenever i come out from backstage
and the stage is a second home
that i don’t get to visit all the time,
but every time i have a chance to come back,
the space is all mine.

i do it because
i refuse to live a normal life,
love the excitement and unpredictability that accompanies
the lack of sensibility that comes from choosing to be
an artist.
i do it because
it beats any buzz, high, or debaucherous night,
puts shame to the best sex i’ve ever had in my life,
and takes control of intangibles like…
time,
making it flow so smoothly that i think i just might
slide through reality and end up in a place i’ve never dreamed.

i love performing!
it’s become a part of me like my skin:
smooth and glowing in summers,
sometimes rough and crackly in the winter
but always an indicator
of what is inside of me
and inside of me
is an artist who has to speak.
inside of me
is a woman whose destiny
is to transform, refuse to conform,
and above all things,
perform.


A or B?


my dear, well-defined friend asked me
if i was A or B
and i laughed softly,
trying to find a way to explain
that i am neither of the rough-edged two
but if i had to choose,
i would be the the X that is barely used
at the beginning of sentences.

definitions are sentences–
mandatory minimums that require us to stay
locked in the rusty bars of identity
that we ourselves possess the key.
my heart repels labels and embraces individuality,
fights against the nominal definitions of humanity
and oh, how i feel free.

i want to pull you with me.
so for every:
heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, “try”sexual,
transgendered, opposite gender,
black, brown, Latino, Hispanic,
African, Asian, American, foreigner;
for every Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim,
atheist, agnostic, traditionalist,
African religion believer, and seeker;
for every hipster, trendy, preppy, yuppy,
ghetto, classy, bourgeoisie personality;
for every rich, poor, in between finance’s doors
and every other title, classification, and variety,
all human beings breathing the same air as me,
i beseech you to break free
from the labels of identity.

we are all making ourselves too small
by covering our hearts with words
that aren’t big enough to capture
all of who we are.
who we are is critical
if we are going to influence the future.
we are tomorrow’s past and it is time we get past
division in the form of labeling prisons.
forget A or B–
choose C or E
or a symbol not of the 26,
blend them together until categories no longer exist
and we are stripped down naked
to the essence of who we really are
because we need who we are
to be who we are.


I’d Like to Propose a Toast


this goes out to
respectful gestures and silly conversation
and innocent flirtation
that tickles my smile and soul
without fingers.
words permeate the room reminding me of who
i am, the bare minimum
(or “essence” as i like to call it in artist-speak).
i feel like once again i am finding myself,
naked from being stripped
from falsehood of contrived personality
and feeling free from releasing
what is already in me.

this goes out to
attraction not yet acted upon,
fun without expectation,
feeling good all over without penetration,
for the exploration of friendship.
i appreciate these moments like
gifts on birthdays, like
compliments on my worst days, like
kool-aid when i’m thirsty
and to be truthful,
i was.
my throat was dry from crying over
those not worth shedding tears over,
but who had rolled the boulder
away from the cave of my emotions
and when i looked in,
my identity was missing
and all that was left
was the clothes i was last seen in.

these moments,
so small and effortless,
resurrect me
and i feel like it’s Sunday.
this goes out to this one day
where i am left unable to compare
this experience to one that was bitter
and instead enjoy the bubbly
that i feel here here–
cheers.

MCU035


Into Me


he’s just not that into me
or maybe
i’m just not that into me.
i invest in the exterior,
keep up images and expectations,
but when it comes to treating my inside,
i’m deaf, dumb, and blind.
i am spiritually numb,
which back in the day would have bothered me
but recently more often than not
i shrug it off–i’m way too busy.
i stand on my feet and grind all day
and the thought of dropping to my knees
to close my eyes and pray
doesn’t hold much priority.
this kind of disturbs me.

my sister said to me that
i’m a precious gem
and i believed her
until i became a rhinestone
just to get next to him
and he pawned me in
for another stone
who knew her own value.

i want to be into me,
have the ability to live and speak freely,
not censoring myself and my identity
to suit those around me.
my life depends on it,
my mind depends on it,
my heart beats pulses of hope
that resonate and reverberate.
i gotta truly love me fully
before it’s too late.