Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “mind

Long Time No Poetry

i resisted you for a while
and now that i’m letting you back in,
you seem to flood and nourish my insides
like much-needed rain.
old tricks no longer put me to sleep–
fingers can get sticky
and room can begin to fill with
aromatic citrus sweet musk;
body can relax,
but mind and heart fills up
with words.

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.

Without Love

where would i be without love?
perhaps shivering naked in a closet,
never having experienced touch;
or sleeping on park benches hoping to get mugged
because violence is at least physical contact
and physical contact sometimes simulates
or at least emulates

where would i be?
mouth devoid of four-letter words
and heart symbols to connect others to me,
interactions without laughter,
days without passion,
existence without meaning,
living without being,
a heart that’s not beating,
a soul that’s not healing,
a mind without imagination,
exchange without compassion,
summer without sun,
winter without Christmas,
holidays with no family,
a brain without sanity,
bare bones and flesh without a body,
eyes without tears,
no fun in conquering fear…

how could i possibly live there?!

i will build a house of love even if
all i can afford is a cardboard box without a roof
and newspaper to stuff the holes in my shoes.
i will clothe myself in patience,
waiting for love despite
my wrinkles and creases in the wrong places,
chase it til it strikes me like lightning
and just as i’m dying,
my eyes will be shining and i’ll know
it was worth trying
because life without love is death
so as i take my last breath,
i’ll just float away to live in another land that is safe
and enter the gate for those who chose to take the risk
that always comes with love

and be home.

Booty Call

you say that you enjoy my presence in your life,
but for some reason, i can’t figure out why
you only wanna see me
at night.
i prefer nice lunches
and holding hands in the street
but you seem more into
groping hands on my curves
at hours when most people sleep.
i don’t get it–
i look at myself in the mirror
and see pretty staring back at me
but when you stare at me,
all you see is pussy.
i think you need glasses maybe,
bifocals so you can experience more than one type of sight,
so you can really see clearly that my heart is light,
my mind is bright,
and that i am too full of treasures
to only be desired
at night.

Diary of an Insomniac

i don’t sleep anymore
and i’m scared i’m gonna crack.
my body is slowly decomposing;
my mind is dry, thirsty soil
and my pillow is fertilizer but the smell
keeps me away.

..gotta stay busy…
gotta gotta gotta gotta
get goals accomplished.
who cares if i have been awake so long
that i can no longer focus?
keep working
even though i can no longer see straight.

every time i check the time,
i see that it’s too late
but i can’t seem to get my feet to touch the floor
to walk to bed.
plans rule the insides of my head
and i suffer from unfinished ones.
they are barrels to guns that rub my temples
and trace the outsides of my mouth.
i’m so tired that tears won’t even come out.
they stay in to assist in the caging in
of the insomnia that has overtaken me.
this altered state is pressure-filled
and i don’t know where it’s taking me.
all i know is that i feel verrry verrry sleeeeepy

and it’s already morning.

I Am A Troubled Woman

i am a troubled woman.
tears flow from things that should make me smile
and i’m enamored with that which causes me pain.
i have a sadomasochistic brain
and my body feeds off of the punishment
inflicted by mistakes.
the heartache reminds me that i am alive
and though i double over at times because of it,
my mind can’t stop doing this.
i run away from love
and chase after infatuation cakes covered with lust frosting
and like it off my fingers late at night like a guilty pleasure
and watch as the number of inches around my loins measure
to be something greater than i can count.
i recount all the calories and grams of fat consumed
by situations i should have left sooner,
“NO”s i should have said with certainty
and people who i have allowed to hurt me,
those who entered my life like
there was a green light on my forehead
and i didn’t have the sense to put up a yellow
so at least they would slow
on the narrow, winding lanes of my heart’s road.
i wish it was not so–
glutton for dessert and hurt;
if pain was a designer,
i’d own the t-shirt
and walk down runways called my day,
strutting my stuff for all to see.
become the premiere spokesmodel who doesn’t need
make-up and glamor to illustrate me–
completely confused, conceived baby
pushing through the birth canal of life
like a newborn who chooses to arrive feet-first.
my life hurts
but there aren’t band-aids large enough,
no peroxide bottle big enough,
no doctor smart enough,
no evidence strong enough,
no love deep enough,
no tears salty enough,
no laughs long enough
to sustain the pain.
so i remain
a troubled woman.

Chocolate Woman


he wants to unwrap me like
because my skin reminds him
of a dessert kind of like
luxurious, smooth texture
and expensive enough
that not everyone can afford
the opportunity to touch.
just what is it about me
that causes him to look so longingly?
why does he desire me?
maybe it’s the mystery,
not knowing what surprises lie inside–
if i’m smooth and sticky-sweet like caramel
or rough and nutty like the lover from hell.
only time will tell
as he stares so hard at my wrapper
that i start to melt
and i have to remind myself
that i am the desired
and even though his sweet tooth feels like it requires
a taste, i must maintain
my posture as a sweet delicacy,
wrapped in a shiny teasing wrapper of celibacy
but still quietly
wishing he’d
envelop me
with his…

Idle Moments

sometimes in my idle moments
that rarely come,
i wonder if
the frequent idle moments
that will surely come
when I’m a wrinkly old woman
will be spent alone.

i’m too busy for love–
glued to my goals
but will the future success mean as much
if i live in an empty home?
right now i don’t know
and i hope i won’t have to find out.
i hope these questions won’t come across my mind
at idle times
because the thoughts on my mind
will be characterized by love and happiness
rather than the prospect
of loneliness.

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.


men are from mars,
women are from venus;
women are from heart
and men are from penis.
i wish we spoke the same language
but we’re so different,
confused by one another like foreign films without subtitles.
if i had my way,
i’d put a sign on every man’s forehead
that would allow me to read his mind.
there would be no secrets…
but perhaps more heartbreak,
being able to see immediately when i’ve made a mistake,
when i’ve given my heart away too fast instead of holding back,
where i’ve said too much instead of keeping my mouth shut.
maybe we’re meant to be different,
polar opposites like
positive and negative
which when joined together
have electric power.
if we were the same, we would repel each other
so we relate like earthlings and martians,
searching desperately for signs of intelligent life,
never giving up because one day all the signs
just might add up.

If You Could See

she said she wished she could be me for a day
and i thought, “honey…
if you could see what was really in my heart,
it would break yours.”

i am not who they think i am.

things are not always what they seem
and though i’m not a thing, but a mere human being,
this cliche somehow applies to me.
i grip me so tight
that my fingers don’t feel right no more.
they are too numb to even fight for more.
the little bones have been cracked
from holding out my heart on my hands
and offering it to the finest bidder,
auctioning off my soul and body
so that my tiny self-concept could grow bigger.

after malnourishment and gluttony all intertwined,
i determined for me that i will no longer
give away my mind.
i used to be kind
but now i offer very little assistance to those in need
because i am afraid that consumed by greed,
they’ll grab at my possessions
with all their strength
and make me feel misused again.
so now i got me
in the pockets of my tight jeans.
i hug my own curves and trust my own touch.
foreign fingers and feelings at this time
are just too much.

so if you still feel inclined to take a journey through my mind,
enter the horrors and smiles left behind,
climb the caves of  laughter caught in my throat,
cover your ears when you hear my agony note.
and on your last day,
rip through my flesh and find
those bones in my pelvis that used to relax and unwind.
and as you depart,
watch your step
so that next time, you won’t regret
wishing to live in my skin
and hopefully i won’t either
and i’ll come back again.


every day i walk miles and miles.
my legs have seen more hills
and my feet have stubbed more toes on sidewalks
than i can recount. if i had to count,
estimate how many miles i ambulate,
i’d have to confess that most of my traveling time
is spent inside of my mind.
i may sit in a cubicle from monday thru friday
but my imagination flies through van gogh’s starry nights
and lands on romare bearden’s collages.
it stretches and contorts like salvador dali’s objects
and tries to remain sleek like the art deco movement
but it’s too rough around the edges to be modern,
too complex to be described by a simple period in time.
this mind is stronger than my muscular calves, which have ached
from the toll of rushing, tried to look too cool for running,
but settling on moving briskly, avoiding
those who choose to waste their days moving at a slow pace,
burning from the fear of always running late.
i look at these thick legs, scars and all
which each have stories of their own
and contemplate how much stronger
my brain must be.
yes, it is bruised by memories
but those same sources of pain have caused it
to become capable of dealing with any and everything,
expansive enough to see the past, present,
and future
and worldly enough to whisk itself away
on new journeys that arise and never cease to surprise
as the feet on my body and on the sidewalks of my mind
travel for miles in order to survive
each hectic day.


tired and restless
i have a hard time
taking time to unwind
and by the time that my mind
finally settles
and stops lingering on things,
the alarm rings.

i walk through my days
in an REM state,
wondering how much greater they would be
if i were actually awake,
if i could actually sleep
instead of staying up to the wee hours
counting the sheep
that represent all that i have not done.
they “Baaa” my way
while i try to find a way
to push them away
and let my dreams come alive.

time for shut eye,
open, active mind,
never enough time
to unwind…

The Run-In

I had all sort of
images in my mind
of what I would do
if I ever ran into you,
but when the night finally came,
I didn’t know what to do.
I was scared to look back,
fearing that you would be
watching me walking forward
and pull me back
just when I thought I was moving forward.
I have dreamt
of cussing you out
and telling you about yourself,
of killing you
despite my fear of going to jail,
but when I saw you
I wondered what the hell
about you made me shrink within myself.
I wish I could go back
and use my voice this time around,
but by the time I worked past my fear and turned around,
you had disappeared into thick city air
and now I wonder
if in fact it was you that was really there.
If it was,
then I’m glad our reunion has come to an end,
but if it wasn’t,
I’ll live in the anxiety of seeing you again.
I hate you and wish your life would end
so my time of scared life will stop so I can
breathe again.

Grave Robber

i woke up one day and threw my dreams away–
packed them in a suitcase and saved them for a rainy day.
i figured that since my life was filled with depression
then i had learned my lesson…
to never aspire.
hanging on the wires of memory, i buried my destiny in fresh soil,
watered the grave with my soul and didn’t know what to do next.
there was no way for me to express when fantasies had turned to death.
but now after my grieving time, i’ve decided to go after mine
so i’m digging…call me a grave-robber cuz i’m stealing
what i had to bury to find–
what i needed to pack away until i gathered my mind
but now that i’m healing, i’m fully embracing,
loving, facing, and chasing
these dreams of mine.

The Yielding Point

at what point does
the healing come?
my scars don’t ever seal,
they just build
and incarcerate emotions
to conceal
what is really going on with me.
if you look closely
at my eyes, you’ll see
that something has disappeared,
you’ll see
that i’m not really here,
that there’s
emptiness behind my stare.
but no one really wants to look anymore.
people get tired of wakes of sadness,
they get weary
of the unhealed.
so my eyes stand alone
while knives stab at my torso,
driven through my flesh
by invisible assassins so i don’t even know
which way to look
to shield myself.
i just want to smile again
and mean it but
i feel low like
my ribcage surrounding my heart is
squeezing and sucking
all the life out of me.

at what point does life become
too much?
what is the yielding point to give up?
the only thing keeping me here is curiosity
because i have not gone through all this
just to rob myself and not see
the reward,
if there even is one.
it feels like my life is ending,
but maybe it’s just begun,
like this is day number one
and i have a whole new sequence of years to live,
that i have a clear
mind free of confusion
and a healthy
heart where hurt does not exist yet
and a soul unburdened by

I Command You

i command you at this exact moment to
don’t think about it–
just do it…
let the floodgates open
and allow the tears to rush through your eyes
and onto your face
and into the wails of your voice.
don’t think of what to lament for–
just cry until your mind explores
all of the reasons you should shed

cry for every person who should still be here.
cry because you have full use of your eyes,
cry for every time communication wasn’t clear,
cry for every store that didn’t have your size.
for every child born without a mother or father,
cry for every homeless person you’ve walked past with dollars
in your pocket, and the fact that you didn’t bother
to help.
cry for yourself.
cry for the pursuit of love,
cry for a connection to God above,
cry as if the only way to make it to heaven
was to pour out a blessing
of your own tears.
cry because you are still here.
cry until reality is clear and all that is false

cry for every word you should have said but didn’t.
cry for every hug you should have given,
for every “i love you” that you’ve hidden
in your heart.
cry as if this is the start
of your life and you have just entered this world
naked as the day you were born
and you have just been torn
from the safety of an umbilical cord.
cry as if this is the day you are dying
and you still haven’t figured out what you lived for.


release all that you have pent up
that has kept you stuck.
it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done it since your were 5,
today i order you to cry.
cry like your dog just died.
cry like your best friend lied
to your face.
cry as if a plane crashed.
cry as if the love of your life just said goodbye
too fast.
cry as if this is the last
possible time in this universe
for you to explode with an expression of your hurt.

and after you’ve poured out so much that
the water doesn’t come any more,
wipe your eyes and your snot,
inhale and exhale and realize
that it’s not the end of the world
just because you took a few moments
to acknowledge what is inside.
that you can’t walk around
with all that frustration in your mind
and not expect it to influence your life.
and after you feel the relaxation from the sensation
of purging all that will be, is, and is gone
and only after you have done
all that you can to fully embrace this moment,

i command you
to move on.

The Cliff

i am so frequently on the edge
of inconsiderate acts
that if i got my act together,
i’d get my facts together
and proceed to jump off the cliff
of “I don’t have to take this”
and lightly land in a place
where foolishness doesn’t exist.

i am so tired of being taken advantage of
that i yawn disappointment
and dream resentment
and if i were a cartoon, i wouldn’t snore Z’s
but a never-ending sequence of “Negro, please.”

i don’t want to be a mean but
i’m so used to the hurt person being me
and i wonder just what about my identity
causes me to be more prone to this activity.
is it my smile?
perhaps it is too inviting.
or maybe it’s my honesty
honesty is so rare these days that
most people treat it as if it were fake
or hold the truth-teller to the same standard
of that lie-teller who played with their mind the last time.

so here i am left feeling
when that person has moved on
to the next interesting pawn
in the chess game of their intentions.
i don’t want to be captured anymore.
just let me be
because these arms are sore from extending love.
this throat is raw from opening up.
this mind is exhausted from pondering the possibilities
that could never be
and my heart is bewildered that i even bothered
to risk again.

so goodbye, my friend.
i bid you farewell for
it is time for me to depart from this height
to a new land where i demand
to be treated right
and hopefully one day you might
muster up the courage, consciousness, and capacity
to be able to join me.

Break Free!

some scholars wrote long ago
that there’s no such thing as an original thought.
i hate to agree with this sentiment
but as i look around me i discover
identical clones lying constantly by denying resemblance to one another.
i see black people
with hair in braids, weaves, and locks,
i see a multitude of the generation defined by hip-hop,
blindly bobbing their heads to BS such as “Lollipop”
and refusing to get any information
from any source other than
a rapper’s sound bite, the radio, or Fox.
i feel funny pointing fingers to tell the truth,
sitting here claiming that there’s been destruction of our youth
because i too have been infiltrated,
spoon-fed lies to control my militant mind turning to mush,
signing away my life to join the army of the uninformed,
claiming to be original but at the same time feeling torn cuz
even my natural hair ain’t original if that’s how i was born cuz
i am by no means the first to claim to be conscious
while being an active consumer of the same objects
that have been used to oppress
not just blacks, but all people.

searching for answers i run toward the nearest steeple,
fall to my knees praying to God to provide
and He whispers in my ear and commands me to realize
that both my positive and negative actions are first birthed in my own mind
and if i really want change, it’s up to me to decide
what i accept.
today i accept
because regardless of what scholars say, there has to be,
there should be,
at least i hope there could be
a way to make change,
rub the chicken grease and sunflower seeds off of my tainted brain,
eliminate the tick tock of my CP time watch
and turn down the bass so my stereo system in the trunk stops
drowning out my knowledge,
numbing my creativity,
and allowing the media to define what i am to be,
what i should be,
or at least what i could be.

today is the day that i break free!

Confused Mind

*Written July 1, 2008*

i promised myself that i would write everyday
but i see that positive habits are hard to make
and negative habits are hard to break.
somehow living with addiction is the only way some can be consistent.
i bet if i was a porn addict, i wouldn’t skip a beat–
i would tune in to the action,
rub myself for satisfaction as if my life depended on it.
if i was a crack addict i would be on the corner like clockwork,
searching for my dealer for the prescription to heal
the screams underneath my skin that influence my brain
to make my feet walk to where i need to get a fix before i go insane.
but somehow a positive habit doesn’t become an addiction.
it turns into a hobby at the least,
or that thing that you say you’re supposed to do but never get to.
like prayer;
talking to God becomes an afterthought
and somehow important questions like where you’re gonna go when you die
become items on the to-do list with a priority of 5
when number 1 is get money, call this person, pay this bill, send this email.
now don’t think i’m in any way being accusatory
because i am simply using this poem to tell my own story,
a confession of my confused mind that would prefer to stay stagnant.
i don’t want to face the serious questions, the doubt in my heart
because somehow i feel like knowledge would tear my world apart.
ignorance is bliss, ignorance is this
freaking existence.
wisdom is in the distance and i wave at it like a kite flying in the sky.
ain’t it pretty? too bad i don’t possess it.
oh well…maybe tomorrow.
i’ll tap that into my palm pilot and even program a reminder
so that i can remember to find the
answers to the questions that plague me
like God, are all people who don’t accept your Son going to hell,
even the good ones?
cuz in my mind it don’t make sense to think that
Anne Frank, Ghandi, members of my family, Rumi, Kuti, and countless others
who possessed enough power to change the world You created
are burning in hell, and if they are, then well…
is it that bad a place?
God forgive my blasphemy, i’m just a little g and next to you i’m so small.
next to you i have no knowledge at all.
next to you i feel safe, but at the same time lost in this place.
forgive me for my sins and even voicing what lives inside
but this is only an attempt to invite you to permanently reside
in this confused Christian’s mind.

Prison of the Mind

*Written June 25, 2008*

i believe the phrase is “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”
but on the real, a mind is a terrible thing to escape
when horrible memories chase your dreams
and stalk your waking moments
and taunt the creases of your smile
and knock on the wall between your skull and forehead
as a constant reminder of plans deferred
what happens to a mind deferred?
does it cease to function on a level of normalcy
or does it minimize itself to feelings of numbness
because it hurts too much to think
even more to acknowledge
that a mind is a terrible thing to face
when the mirror of the subconscious reflects back
your worst nightmares in 3D vision
that a mind is a terrible thing to taste
when poison seeps in with no antidote
bitterness covers hope
where is the rope to free the mind?
my hands are blistered but i have to climb
have to elevate past this confusion
push past these delusions
enter a point where the mind no longer dictates
no longer dominates
no longer becomes something to escape or waste
but to embrace
because a free mind is a free life
so i’m tryna free mine so i can find life
find the keys to the door
and feel the sunshine on my face
and begin my first day as a free woman
and not an inmate.


*Written June 22, 2008*

in an unclean world it’s hard to “keep it clean”
is there clean anymore?
the gutters of my mind got so much gunk stuck
in their corners and crevices that i think
the concept of clean is more an ideal
that might never get reached
the images i’ve seen on my mind projector
i wish would shwoosh away in natural disasters
but the grimy litter stays always
it’s like cuttin up old photographs but the negatives remain.