Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “memories

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.


Dice Rollin


i’m happy you’re my baby.
you got me feeling lucky–
no snake eyes with these dice,
all i’m rolling is sevens.
who thought a rainy day
could still feel like heaven?
you had me open since day 11
minus the one on the end.
when i looked in your eyes,
i saw the future as more than just friends.
i never thought i’d feel this way again,
never thought i’d not have to pretend
or sway in the wind
of scar-filled memories.
with you i have new leaves
and they’re greener than the greenest green.
i’m higher than when i smoke marijuana trees
this relationship is so obsene,
so serene,
more beautiful than 1,000 sunsets
next to the sea of bliss in which we’re swimming
and this is only the beginning.


Taste of Memories


certain foods get me thinking about you:
spicy curry atop rice and peas, fried “plant-in”,
and cabbage salad on the side
transports me back to those times
when we shared more than meals–
culinary expert teaching naive me
how to season chicken and cook rice without burning it
and how to savor the flavor of coconut juice
that like you,
i drank and chewed.
our hearts steamed like fresh vegetables,
aroma making me hungry for more.
i had a large appetite back then,
begging you to feed me more of you,
tell me stories to make me swim to Caribbean islands,
expose me to different music styles and lifestyles
and herbs and such.

i quietly still want you to
intoxicate me with your touch like you used to do
because though it has been years,
after you, i’ve never been able to lay in a bed
and be completely relaxed.
my back never used to have this amount of tension
that only grows tighter from lack of attention.
even when i had problems back then,
they never seemed to be too much.
now i’m choking to death and my old life preserver
is probably the server of happy memories
to someone else.

i hope she’s happy.
i hope you’re happy,
emancipated from my hard head that refuses to forgive
and my sharp tongue that enjoys throwing knives.
will there be a next time?
i wonder if you’ll ever be between more than my mind
like chicken patty in coco bread
washed down by fresh carrot juice.
will we return to our roots
or are they split ends
never go be rekindled again?

Jah knows best.


Fake Lovers


we are fake lovers,
spinning on a broken record
that’s our jam
that causes us to dance
when we jump out of our crazy,
lonely lives to listen
to each other breathe into phone receivers
and wish for more.

we had more, baby.
we were Bonnie and Clyde
speeding down a highway
where reality chased
and there was no damn way
we were stepping on the brakes.
we were the Red Sea before
Moses lifted his staff to separate,
but now we live on two different sides–
there is dry land in between the wetness
that once lived in laughter that birthed tears
and bodies that danced in sheets without any cares
in the world but which one of us
will cum first.
“us” had come to an end
with no satisfaction
and now i wish i could wrap back then
in saran wrap or a silk napkin
and save the memories for when i am hungry.
i would eat them crumb by crumb for every night
i have to sleep alone with no one
beside me
or watch romantic movies
and end up sentimental and crying
or ponder the reasons
why love always seems to be dying
and dine on the times
when you and me were “we” thriving.

our love was alive like
Lazarus after Jesus wept
and we took steps
on a spiraling staircase that never seemed to end
until we tried to climb to future heights
and fell down to hell.
now shit is fire and i think you’re a liar
but even though you burned me
you’re still the best i’ve seen
with my near-sighted eyes
and i wish i could feel once more what we had.
and i wish we didn’t move so fast
from strangers to lovers to soul mates
to exes to strangers
to this phase
of sporadic late night phone calls
and empty promises
and reminiscing of good night kissing
instead of hanging up with uncertainty
of when we’ll speak again.

damn.
i miss my friend.


The Overdue Goodbye


i often wonder if
when you sleep at night in a room by yourself,
you still feel as if
you’re locked down in a cell.
no longer 6 x 6 x 6
but really, what is your existence?
my heart feels trapped in jail with you
and i miss visiting hours often–
sometimes i get turned away because
my clothes are too tight or my attitude just ain’t right
or i can’t beat the traffic of nightly rush hour.
this sentence is sour.

you are free, but an inmate
and if i remember correctly,
your # was 98028618
but i don’t remember the exact date
when i decided i couldn’t love you anymore.
at times i feel torn,
knowing that you walk free and i am lonely
and that your dream is you and me
and as a result,
my curiosity fuels me to drive down dark alleys
that are dead ends.

i can no longer pretend that we have a future.
i look at the present
and see the ramifications of the past
and cry over wasted youth and good times
and silly mistakes and getting by
and tattooing our skin to show our love lines
and covering up the one of you that was mine
and replacing you,
erasing you with new memories and new guys,
some who hurt me worse than you
but at least they are fresh wounds.

baby, i miss you
as much as i act like i don’t
but i missed me more,
didn’t even recognize myself after i walked in doors,
was an empty shell whose spirit was piss-poor
and i ain’t rich yet
but i ain’t fully switched yet
and when my new channel comes through past the static
i won’t forget what we had.

my first love, free jailbird,
my old siamese twin lovebird,
if i could say one word to you right now,
as much as it hurts me inside,
i would finally say
the overdue
goodbye.


It Was Just Sleeping


tonight i wept.
suppressed sighs escaped my mouth
and memories i thought were buried
burst out.
they streamed down my face
and shook me awake to the fact that
the misery is not gone.

it was just sleeping.

it awoke
when it heard the alarm of the familiar.
how strange it is
that memories become entangled with the brain,
creating knots in the heart
and quicksand for fresh starts
and new beginnings.

i want the ending.


Happy Birthday, Daddy


over the years,
i’ve had many friends
who grew up without fathers,
seen too many who only knew
the love of their mothers.
in them, i observe a hole that is never filled.

i thank God that i have never known that feeling.

one of my fondest childhood memories
consists of running from the school bus
to hug you who
stood smiling and waiting for me.
even today i am still that little girl,
the one who feels safe in your arms
with my face tickled by your beard.
Daddy,
i thank you for always being there.
in a crazy world,
you are stability.
in my childishness,
you know what i really need.
you inspire me to reach higher–
to run past mediocre
to the finish line of excellence.

i pray for the time when i will reach success
so that i can finally have the chance
to give back a portion
of what you have given me:
long nights with homework,
sincere prayers in the mornings,
large doses of wisdom,
generosity with everything.
your love is priceless–
one that sparkles whenever i call.
your love is a safety net
that always catches me when i fall.
your life is a treasure–
even in this falling economy,
your stock continues to grow
and on this day when you have grown
to becoming a more youthful old,
i honor you.

hallmark cards written by strangers
no longer have the power to say
that which i wish to tell you
on special days such as this.
even my own words seem inadequate
when it comes time to express
how much you mean to me.
so here is my attempt to say it in my own way:

for loving me,
i thank God for your birthday.
for raising me,
i thank God for your birthday.
for taking care of Mommy,
i thank God for your birthday
and because you’re my Daddy,
i thank God for your birthday.


Missing Pieces


i kinda miss him
but i don’t know why.
i still desire
the one who broke my heart,
hoping that he kept the misplaced pieces
in case he ran into me again.
maybe he hid me in his wallet
next to a year-old condom
or in the bottom drawer
under his socks with holes in them.
i certainly live in memories
that hold such crucial portions of me,
but it’s physically impossible to reach
into another person’s fantasies.
even if i had the opportunity
to sneak up on him while he sleeps,
i couldn’t enter the territory of his dreams–
so parts of my soul are held hostage by a man
who i barely even know anymore.
and now when i laugh,
it’s hard to ignore
that certain tones and melodies are missing–
it’s the difference between a keyboard and a grand piano.
how much better is the original than a hip-hop sample?
i have dwindled into a preview
when i used to be director’s commentary.

if i could stand on a platform and speak
to girls who remind me of me
the day before i gave me away,
i’d warn them not to.
i’d encourage them to hold on tight to their hearts
like the handlebars of a bike
on their first day without training wheels;
to stick to their sanity
as if they had crazy glue on their fingers
and couldn’t remove them until they absolutely knew
that the love they imagined
was real.
i would drill into their heads to grip those hearts
like old white women do their purses
as young black men walk past them on streets,
to take precaution because
i don’t want them to be like me,
searching for themselves in situations
that no longer exist,
wearing tanktops but
still finding their hearts on their wrists,
saying to themselves,
“i never thought it would be like this”
and shaking their heads when they realize that it is
and that there’s no turning back,
just searching for that
piece of them that they gave away,
discovering a few moments too late
that they’ll need their whole selves again one day.


Sexual Freedom


for reasons unanticipated and uninvited,
sexual freedom has become
an oxymoron to me.
perhaps because i am locked in a cage
of celibacy.
or more truthfully,
because the freeing of this pleasure
ended with a nightmare turned memory.
it’s nearly impossible to enjoy events
that are now associated with pain.
one who loses a loved one on a holiday
always feels bittersweet feelings–
birthdays and thanksgiving are not the same.
and that’s how i feel.
passion runs through me
but the thoughts of actually releasing it
die before conception.
my body is no longer aroused
and sour memories are housed
in the roof of my mouth
and the flesh of my heart.
i understand how i arrived at this ending
and it pains me to think of my start:
daring to be curious,
thriving off of taking chances,
naive without worries
and most of all,
trusting.
the possibility of trust
now cuts my brain.
my warning alarms go off
and my eyes sprinkle rain.
i watch others who claim to be free
and shake my head in sadness
and reminisce on when
they used to be
me.


Friends


*Written June 22, 2008*

why are friendships so short?
i miss old friends
i can’t find the memories
i feel like i put them
in a random mail box as a prank
but forgot the house number.