Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “inspiration

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.

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.

The Life of a Foreigner

i look at what is beautiful
and honestly find it
is there something wrong with me?
perhaps i see from different eyes,
pick up in my pupils
objects unseen by the blind
yet i am visually impaired
with images people claim to be here.
i hear, “this is art”
and think, “how stupid.”
they say, “this is ridiculous”
and i respond, “how moving.”
i am brought to tears by what others insist
to be insignificant;
my heart beats faster from words
that fly through ears and leave some indifferent.
perhaps from now on
i should introduce myself as who i really am–
an alien,
ask those who i encounter
to welcome me with open arms
to their alternate universe
as we compare our differences:
what makes us hurt,
what causes smiles,
what is a waste of time,
what is worthwile.
i will shake hands with every foreigner
until i find one who has the perfect fit
and whose fingerprints match my own
and i discover that i am not in fact


the escalator cried and moaned
like a mother who lost her son,
and the sound grew
on and on.
machines lack inspiration
and even knowing this, human beings become them:
ungreased, rusty-hinged, slaves to routine,
lacking color–
even the palest of us turn brownish-green.
i’m already dark-skinned
but pray every night that i won’t turn
into that extreme…
groaning every morning as the world steps on my face,
continually working knowing
i’ll never leave that place.
i’m more like a roller coaster,
going up and down, curving around at times
and eliciting reactions from others in the form of
screams and smiles of laughter.
no crying, just laughter,
coming straight from the belly
and sprinting out of tear-filled eyes.
i cry and moan inside, but pray that i’ll
never be that dead inside one day.
one day this speculation won’t even matter anymore.
when i don’t have to hear weeping machines no more,
mourning over lost sons who succumbed
to the machine of complacency,
rolling back and forth and never walking
with a sense of
to live out dreams.

I am in Love

i think i have found my soul-mate.
i’ve heard that there’s someone for everybody
and after dealing with some somebody’s
that weren’t for me,
i think i’ve found the one
who sincerely adores me.
our relationship is so fresh
and i’m kinda scared about revealing it so early
but some love is so strong
that you can’t keep it a secret,
some love makes you feel so high
that it can’t stay on the down-low
so here i go:

i’ll start off by saying
that i never thought i’d be
in a same-sex relationship,
always imagined that the only one
who could complete me
would be a husband.
but i started having days when i smile for no reason
and now the tears that i cry come from inspiration.
this woman has shown me my potential
by giving her own struggle as an example.

she has faced so many dark days
but still lights up lives.
she has been attacked both physically and mentally
but still manages to survive
with her head held high.
her smile is sweeter than birthday cake
and when she laughs, i get all tingly inside
like waking up on Christmas morning.

i get scared and start mourning
the possible end of this friendship
because the last time i was this open,
i got disappointed.
but something tells me that this one is different,
that this one won’t leave me.
in all honesty,
i am in love with this woman
who just so happens to be

it’s funny
how it took hurt from others
for me to look in the mirror
to count my wounds
with water welling up in my eyes
and as the tears fell,
my vision got clearer and i saw
the beauty, the love
that i searched for long and wide
lives inside.
i am in love
with me.

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
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.