Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “love

From Disdained to Divine


for the past few years,
i have looked at my body with disdain–
blamed it for inexplicable pain,
glances from creepy men who refused to break stares
even after i shot the dirtiest of daggers with my eyes to say,
“get away from me.”
i have tugged my love handles unlovingly,
stood in the mirror jiggling parts
i’m too shy to mention through poetry,
cursed my skin for getting dry and scaled in the winter,
wished i was thinner,
wished i could trade this black woman body
for that of a girl named Molly
(with a big-enough booty to keep her warm on cold days),
wished bra shopping didn’t frustrate,
but now i recognize all the self-hate and laugh.

today, i look at this body
and see how much God loves me–
so much so that he hand-crafted me,
sculpted me without straight lines.
i am His design,
i am that divine living representation of Him.
i admire my skin
and every limb and curve it touches.
now when curious eyes land on me,
i smile to myself,
put myself in their shoes,
knowing that if i saw such a creation,
i’d stop and look too.


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.


You Fill Me


you fill me,
not in that literal way
of pitcher pouring into tall glass
to form condensation on the outside,
but in that spiritual way
of your heart pouring into mine
to form radiance of skin,
showing of teeth,
growing of hair,
confidence that shouts to strangers
that i am loved enough at home
to need anything from them.

i never knew a man who made my hair grow,
whose soul glowed and became B complex
to make my life much less so;
i never knew a man who laughed at my jokes so hard
that tears filled his eyes,
a man who knew all of me,
from the low dark corners i don’t want anyone to see
up to the vision of who i’d like to be
and loves each part equally,
but you,
you fill me.

i was complete before,
but with you i overflow,
always grow,
always know
that i am full.


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.


Heart Kiss


if you gave me permission to kiss your heart,
not just the skin on your chest that protects it—
the pecs i’ve greeted with warm and greedy pecks
past the number if times deemed to be polite;
not just familiar and smooth brown skin,
but that deep and scary thing that lies within—
i’d first have to hide my embarrassing grin.

i’d tiptoe up to your beating red flesh nervously,
take note of your vulnerability
and marvel at the sight before me
and at how before this day, in blood,
i never saw beauty.
i’d check my breath and wipe my sweaty palms on my pants
before softly kissing it with parted lips and folded hands.

i would set up residence in all four of your chambers,
curl up and read the book of your soul,
highlight all the secrets you’re still afraid to tell me;
dog-ear the pages of your insecurities
French-kiss your pain and lick your wounds,
digest them to make them mine.

but they’re already mine.
you have unraveled the helixes of my DNA
and genetically altered and doubled us
into a four-strand cord impossible to break;
victimized my veins
and transformed them from kidnapped to kin;
taught me choreography to a rhythm once new
but now true.

boom-boom
boom-boom
boom-boom:
the pulse of
our hearts.
our kiss.
our love.


Full



i’ve got that
“newlywed happy love” weight;
that
“you’ve filled my heart and tummy
and now i can’t button my jeans” weight;
that
“i’ll take a slice of you
with extra whipped cream” weight.

your love is salty caramel sweet;
your words are hot sauce when i’m fried chicken
and your kiss is like a whole Maine lobster
with extra melted butter
and i’m hungry!
feed me!

always satisfy my appetite for your love.
even when i think i’m stuffed,
i haven’t had enough.
you have added pounds to my life
that i cherish
and carry with me proudly.

i am full
of you.


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.


Shiver


i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.

this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.

my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.

but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
slips away.

i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.

but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…

and sometimes i still
shiver.


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!


Aunt Sarah’s Chirren


Photo by Brandon Allen Photography

what are my chirren’s names?
i done had so many,
seen lives blow through wind like ragweed, mm hmm.
my woman-parts at one time were like
a train station–
men whistlin’, comin’ and leavin’.
i never loved the ones who came,
but the ones who left?
chiiiillle,
they carry pieces of my heart with them in their pockets,
pull me out of their wallets like crisp dollar bills at the liquor sto’
and roll me and smoke me in their funny cigarettes.
baby, i am like ash,
shakin’ free,
black and grayish-white,
once on fire
but lookin closer to death than life.


My Hair Is


my hair is amorphous,
without form, rhyme, or reason.
my hair hates politics–
she’s been duped one too many times by extremists
so now she’s independent–
tickling my back when she feels like it;
exposing my scalp to sun and air when summer hits;
kinky and free,
straight and demure,
curly and flirty,
she is me.

and i wish someone would dare tell me or her how to be!

my hair is expression,
escaping when i can’t.
and i love that.


Bubble Burst


burst bubbles
leave wetness in the air.
then remnants of fun disappear
from what was once floating, happy.
i thought you were my friend,
thought you liked to play with me,
run around with wands and create magic,
but instead you wreak havoc,
have hands that cleverly and cruelly crush my creations.
you pretend to participate.
you destroy with a smile.

lucky for me,
i have enough joy in my jar to last me past today;
sudsy water, love and hope
to survive your hate;
enough to make me a huge bubble to float along sun-shining skies,
higher than the place where i care about how you feel
and low enough where just being happy for myself
is more than enough.


Mr. Colorful


Mr. Colorful,
you try to stay low-key
in earth tones and gym clothes,
but i see through your facade.
i observe not only your smooth, brown skin,
but also the rainbow spectrum that glows within.

your soul is red and strong,
like that of a man who loves hard and long.
your tongue is orange and sweet,
fleshy and messy
but neat,
not barging over your yellow
that streams into my consciousness
like sun rays in the morning.
the peace of your green
covers my past mourning and nagging
with calm,
no more blues with you–
just blue:
cool and mysterious like the indigo nights when i lay with you
and violet fills the room
until white walls around us
no longer matter.

baby, can I live in your ROYGBIV?
be your silly black girl
who sometimes pays the rent late,
but always greets you with a smile?
will you be my colorful Valentine
and rub off on me
just a little?
kiss me
just a little?
hold me
just a little?

cuz you’ve made my life better
a whole colorful lot.


Growth into Beauty


i feel like i am
JUST
growing in to my beauty.
before, my skin was
sunset:
confidence fading into cloudy horizon,
but bright morning has finally come
and when i smile,
i swear i can hear birds singing!
eyes bright
from all the yawning around me,
skin glowing.

love of self
was a hard seed that just needed nurturing,
extra time soaking in the water of my tears
until sprouting occurred.
now it is flourishing,
deeply rooted like a tree,
arms stretched, strong enough
to hold the weight of the little children
i‘ll be responsible for
feeding reminders of their worth.

it’s as if i gave birth,
belly no longer swollen with doubt,
removal of morning sickness
and mother
to past, present and future experiences.

and i am
STILL
growing into my beauty,
hoping to be
an adult one day.


Just As You Left It


your shoes are just as you left them:
asymmetrical,
grass caught in creases of the soles,
laces untied,
scent of foot sweat–
subtle, not overpowering;
appearance neat.

inanimate objects imitate life
between these walls,

for my heart is just as you left it:
asymmetrical,
with one chamber heavier than the others;
unspoken words caught in creases of my soul,
future plans untied,
scent of body sweat caught in my bed–
subtle, not overpowering;
appearance neat.

intimate objects imitate love
between these walls.


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.


Friendship Haiku


friendships wither fast

like plants deprived of water,

attention, and love.


Retrospect Haiku


i lost all i had,

then met you and gained it back;

maybe pain’s not bad.


Highs and Lows Haiku


love carries me to

heights like clouds and underground;

never standing flat.


Retraction


i wish i could retract
every cold shoulder,
withheld hand,
rude word,
eye roll,
PMS-inspired interpretation,
self-centered conversation,
sly sarcastic word
and any other instance
of angry black woman-ness
and replace it with
sweetness:

pure cane sugariness
sucked on and dripped down
the corners of your smile
in a tropical land we’ve never been
(maybe Guyana?)
i wanna give you
agave nectar for your agape love
and stir it into a shining glass
of joy that comes naturally:
times i watch you in awe;
times i imagine the future without you
and see nothing at all;
times i remember my pain before you
and quietly know i’d jump through
the same hoops of fire
if you were on the other side.

you are like water
i drink in greedily to cool my insides.
i hope that i quench your thirst
as deeply as you do for me.
i know i can be bitter-tasting,
and for that, i’m sorry—
being sweet is new territory.
but for you, i will try
anything.


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.


Some Men


So I was on one of my new favorite poetry blogs (shout out to my sister, iWrite!) and this poem of hers inspired me to write the one below.  I am calling it “Some Men”:

some men give crazy love
that leaves women questioning “what is love?”
and if love is this feeling in my gut, then
what’s the big deal about it?
why do people chase it,
beg to taste in like a delicious gourmet meal
when sometimes it is sour?

some men are e. coli to the mind,
causing a disgusting purge of tears,
emotion and an intake of fear
that extending oneself always leads to sickness,
heart aches, soul breaks
and mistakes realized too late.

some men give crazy schizophrenic love,
have us talking to the air
as if they were there,
hugging pillows and kissing insides of elbows
and whispering words to their spirits
too shut down to even listen.

but girl,
some men love us sane.
cause us to look in the mirror
and realize that we are enough
and always have been,
that we are not the cause
of everything that happened back then,
that we don’t deserve insanity
and that even though
we were crazy at one point,
it made us who we are today.


Confusing Passion


i hunger for something to be passionate about
aside from love.
love is so
transient,
so full of
longing.
half of the word, “love”
is made of vowels
and the opening of my mouth to say the
“o”
gets me every time.

how can i spend time being passionate about
something so difficult to define,
so misused and abused and confusing
to the eye?
and the ear?
and the heart?

but passion lies in the heart.
i wish passion would wake up and stretch its limbs
to my brain, become
tangible
for once and manifest itself in my days.
passion doesn’t pay bills
and neither does love.

it just adds more debts.
i owe words
and being present
and truly listening
and affection
and kisses
and staying up late when i’m tired
and compromise
and future-building
and seriousness
and effort.

i gain so much,
but i owe so much of myself.
and i’m just getting to know myself.


Adjectively Interesting


i always swore that
i was so freaking awesome–
well not always,
but for quite a while,
i’ve been some kind of wonderful
and then i met you
and you’re super fantastic
and when we’re together,
i’m über courageous
and when i say your name,
i’m uncontrollably smiling
and when you’re close enough to touch,
i’m shiveringly anxious
and now that we’ve bonded,
i’m so incredibly grateful.

our souls have matched
and i’m so peacefully excited
and even though i’m creative and carefree,
i’m growing exponentially mature
and i never expected such
overwhelming love
because at one time,
my heart was indefinitely closed
but for your sweetness,
it cautiously opened
and now i’m wide open,
ready to receive all of the adjectives
you’re willing to add to my life
that i thought was so
interesting already
until you came to show me
that interesting alone
is not enough.