Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “music


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

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.

i miss my friend.


happens to break down in beats
that match the vibrations of my heart.
we are one,
checking in mirrors to see
that we are Black on Both Sides
as Black Stars shine and twinkle in our eyes.
i’d be Ready to Die
if i had the Reasonable Doubt
that hip-hop no longer had All Eyez on Me…
spend Midnights Marauding with 2 Pacs on my back,
heavy because there’s barely enough room
to contain The Cool.
it’s Dark and Hell is Hot
but i will search for our love
for It Was Written long before
i was able to recognize it–
infiltrated and made me high
like The Chronic and
mixed up signs like Aquemini…
hip-hop and i
will be Finding Forever
as we bob our heads to the same ol’ two step
that will guide us across stage at Graduation.
nobody has to say “Ho!” for me to know
that our love is true,
that Tha Drought is Over
as classic flows course through the bloodstream
and scream that It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop,
that even when people try to Pop, Lock and Drop it,
the movement will not stop.
the revolution will be televised in the streets
once conversations in board rooms of Viacom start to cease,
when we take control over what defines we,
when we break down our own barriers and walls
and remix what all of this means,
when we treat hip-hop just as we do our heart,
guarding it while appreciating each new melody,
knowing that it represents
so much more
than just a beat.

The Naked Truth

naked as the day i was born,
i am alone.
there is no one to touch and play
and most times when i’m clothed i say
that this is ok.
but as i lay in my cotton sheets in the buff,
i know that my solitary existence is not enough.
i feel like doing a dance,
not one i can do all by myself.
with this choreography,
i’ll need a little help.
when i put my feet down here
and my knees out there,
you groove your movement
to make sure the dance floor is clear.
then we will find the tempo and key
of our soundtrack.
i believe it begins
in the falling and rising
of the small of my back,
the beat can be found in the rocking of my hips
and the melody lives in the curve of my lips.
our ballroom dancing is like none other
because it a dance that occurs in no other place
than my idle imagination.
others do this dance,
but not me.
i move alone and trust nobody
to two step with me.
my nudity is no longer a performance
but a mode of relaxation,
devoid of the sensation
of movement penetration.
i have dancing shoes in my closet but
won’t put them on.
hopefully by the time i do,
they’ll be playing my song.

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.

This is Your Brain

i get upset as my brain cells fry
and before the cooking of my
intelligence is finished,
my consciousness has mysteriously diminished.
with each expletive, reference to the club, clothes and sex
i exchange the logical portion of my identity
for an apathetic, watered-down version of me.
foolishness is hidden in tight beats
craftily slipping each listener a mickey,
one that has adverse effects seen in the bobbing of their heads
and the memorization of lyrics of the dead
that they had no intention of mummifying in their minds
but this is a narcotic of a different kind,
providing a high that causes its users to sing along
to choruses that they once swore were dumb.
i am going through withdrawal.
music as an art form is so powerful
and yet, it’s being conquered and corrupted violently.
i want music that will romance me,
take me on trips to other lands, even if only for 4 minutes,
transport me on journeys to rivers of reminiscence;
tunes that welcome my memory to linger on positive times,
composition that will be vitamins to my mind,
enabling my growth and health,
not music that numbs my true self.
i no longer want to be lost in lyrics of defilement,
to be the main character on a public service announcement
that has back-to-back reruns that just won’t stop
saying: “This is your brain…”
and when the radio beat drops,
“This is your brain on hip-hop.”

Club Confessions

we are the zombies.
we come alive at night.
we are invisible men and women during the day,
but as darkness falls, we get carried away.
we come out dressed in our best,
hoping to locate the missing piece of our puzzle of unrest.
we are zombies
searching for fun,
reaching for fulfillment,
doing the thriller dance on the floor,
allowing our bodies and minds to explore
“Will you come home with me?”
“Will you buy me a drink?”
“Will you remember me and call tomorrow?”
hopefully this drink will drown out my sorrow.
hopefully these clothes will make me look less hollow.
hopefully with my dark shades in this dark place,
no one will be able to see my face
to know that i am a zombie.
i am the walking deceased,
bobbing my head to bass beats,
sweating in the stiff stench of body heat,
trying incessantly to find me.
i look in each corner,
squinting my eyes and searching hard,
trying to discover humanity but all i see is a graveyard
with the risen dead all around.
i’m searching for the sun
but all i see is clouds.
i start running to recover the rest of myself
but i slip on spilled drinks on the ground.
i’m trying to speak and hear my own voice
but it’s drowned out by the sound
of bodies shuffling feet and grinding, rubbing for the feel of romance,
of hip-hop melodies and a DJ yelling loud tellin me to raise my hands
and a population of people participating in each empty-headed, mindless dance
til the point that i can’t stand the fact that
i left home as a human being
and now i’m a zombie.