Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “neglect

The Frailty


when did life get so fragile?

i’ve walked holding this package
haphazardly,
forgetting its delicate contents
and shaking it up
whenever the mood hit me,
carrying it upside down
and placing it down
in areas i don’t even inspect
because part of me expects
that no matter what the climate or environment,
my life is a contractual agreement
not to be voided until i say so.

when did life get so fragile?

areas of my social web
crafted so beautifully and symmetrically
suddenly
have holes.
people i have walked with, laughed with,
and with whom i have accomplished feats
fall through
and i’m sitting here looking at my feet
wondering when the thin material under me
will break
and why it hasn’t done so already
cuz when i look at my mistakes
i see that nothing separates
me from the fallen.

but until that moment when i’ve fallen,
i’ll keep crawling
around the shaky and slippery surface,
praying to God that i won’t be too nervous
or scared to enjoy the journey.
i turn around to look at fellow travelers,
those who started with me
only to discover that some have disappeared
while others dodge the gaps in the road,
breathing in fear
and hoping that with the next rising of the sun,
they’ll still be here.
we all stop to shed tears
for those who only exist now
in memories of smiles,
and ask the question

when did life get so fragile?

(RIP Jennifer)

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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.


Relationship Counseling (Revised 7-29-08)


Where did you go, Time?
Did I offend you? Did I misuse you
and now you’re staying away from me for a while?
Look…I’m sorry I abused you.
I didn’t mean to neglect you
for things that seemed,
well, more…
urgent.
I thought you would always be here,
waiting in the wings, a constant in my life.
I didn’t know that you would grow weary,
get old and even one day perish.
People say you fly but instead you
die,
falling down never to be revived,
moving on to those who consider you alive.
Resurrect, please!
Let me do with you what I should have done
and make a commitment for you to be my husband.
Time, I will love you if you come back,
spend my focus figuring out how to make me and you
more effective,
work on our relationship and communicate with you
so that you will be a positive factor in all that I do.

Time, I want to love you, but it is so difficult
because you are always rushing,
never around for as long as I want you to be.
I look up from my sleep and you are gone
and I am late for work.
I look up from my selfishness and there you are,
walking away with my loved one.
I look up from my procrastination and
you are jumping out of the window with my goals.
Time, I’ll give up my control.
Just tell me what you it is,
what I am supposed to be doing right now.
I am a novice at dealing with you
and I need your guidance because I feel you
disappearing.
I don’t know you anymore
and all I see is your shadow fading in the opposite direction.
I’m hoping I see you tomorrow because you’re disintegrating today.
Oh my,

Time
just slipped away.


Relationship Counseling (Revised 7-23-08)


there’s so much for me to learn
and i just feel like there’s never enough
time.
time escapes me–
it is a fugitive prisoner in my life, running
and running,
and i get tired of chasing.
i’m not used to keeping up with time.
it’s a sprinter
and i’m not trained for speed.
i prefer to walk
when time dodges me.
it’s used to escaping the best,
putting people who consider themselves athletes
to a true, nearly impossible test.
time i wish existed solely in my mind
but it is a reality, leaving me
in the dust choking.

where did my time go?
did it disappear into thin air like smoke or
is it fogging my eyes, clouding my mind, stinging my brain?
i wish i could contain
the seconds, subdue
the minutes, force
the hours
to submit to my command.
i wish i could make friends with time and hold its hand–
walk in friendship and feel like we’re in this
together, me and time,
the best of buddies in rain or shine,
but then reality sets in
and i look around and realize
that me and time are no longer companions walking freely.
time has run away,
moved on to the next thing
and i’m looking for what direction it went in,
searching the ground for footprints,
for some sort of sign.

where did you go, time?
did i offend you? did i misuse you
and now you’re staying away from me for a while?
look, i’m sorry i abused you.
i didn’t mean to neglect you
for things that seemed,
well, more
urgent.
i thought you would always be there,
waiting in the wings, a constant in my life.
i didn’t know that you would grow weary,
get old and even one day perish.
people say you fly but instead you
die,
falling down never to be revived
moving on to those who consider you alive.
resurrect, please,
let me do with you what I should have done
and make a commitment for you to be my husband.
time, i will love you if you come back.
spend my focus figuring out how to make me and you
more effective,
work on our relationship and communicate with you
so that you will be a positive factor in all that i do.

time, i want to love you, but it is so difficult
because you’re always rushing,
never around for as long as i want you to be.
i look up from my sleep and you are gone
and i am late for work.
i look up from my selfishness and there you are,
walking away with my loved one.
i look up from my procrastination and
you are jumping out of the window with my goals.
time, you are control.
tell me what you it is,
what i’m supposed to be doing right now.
i’m a novice at dealing with you
and i need your guidance because i feel you
disappearing,
i don’t know you anymore
and all i see is your shadow fading in the opposite direction.
i’m hoping i see you tomorrow because you’re disintegrating today.

oh my,
time
just slipped away.


Back in Time (Revised 7-16-08)


why can’t rain be cotton candy
and thunder be gumdrops
and clouds be licorice
and lightning be lollipops?
i just want to stick out my tongue and be pleased
i just want to eat sweets
but i don’t want the rain,
i don’t want the insane and i don’t want
the mundane i just
want.
there’s a blank following that statement
because the blank represents
that which i do not know.
i wish i could grow
as quickly as my hair
but with each five minutes added to blow-drying
i find myself crying
and upset over the same things.
people talk about life and the joy it brings
but all i can think about is me and the song i want to sing.

am i selfish?
if i am, i can’t help it.
i spent so much of my life neglecting me
that sometimes
i walk past mirrors and ask
“who is she?”
and then i look back
and observe parts of myself i never knew were there.
you know those dreams when you’re naked
or standing in your underwear
while everyone around you is covered?
i feel that bare when i’m awake in front of others,
maybe overexposed to past lovers,
or maybe still hurt by betrayal from past brothers
or sisters or friends
but the innocence in me has gone
and it takes a while before i can play pretend again.

i wish i were five, i wish i were truly alive,
not just on auto-pilot like a drunk pilot
who gives announcements without thinking
or considering the lives he’s risking.
let’s pretend!
let’s play on the monkey bars,
let’s even roll in the dirt
and wear down our jeans at the knees.
mama might get mad but she’ll understand
that it’s normal for children to play freeze tag.
chase me without the intent of hurting me.

let’s hide and go seek our identities,
our own persons,
find ourselves and tap them on the shoulder
and shout “you’re it!” to make them real.
let’s engage with our future selves–
stare them in the face and admire the bumps and bruises,
admire the smoothness
in places that are rough now,
and the sagging
in places that are firm now,
and the wisdom
from things that are learned now.

life is kind of serious sometimes
maybe that’s why it’s hard
to locate my childhood mind
i wish i could press rewind
and reverse and stay
back in time.


Life Play


*Written July 7, 2008*

why do you play with my life, baby?
you enter and leave my presence as if my heart were an airport
and you have stocked up on frequent flier miles.
why do you play with my life, baby
as if i were a joyful infant
anxiously awaiting your face, your touch, your care?
i am not a toy, i am not a fly outfit,
i am not that old favorite pair of sneaks in the back of your closet
that you pull out from time to time because you miss them.
i am a woman. i have needs
which don’t include riding on your every whim,
hanging on to your every word,
adjusting to your every mood,
answering your every call,
accepting all of your mistakes.
i am no fool, at least not anymore.
i refuse to stay stagnant, to allow my heart to jump
when you decide to pick up the phone and check on me.
my life is worth so much more than an “I miss you” every three months or so.
my life is worth love, companionship, acceptance, encouragement, sacrifice,
love, love, and love
not your poor excuses for life, for your mishaps in the past
that to you were just slips but to me stabs.
go play with someone else’s life or better yet your own.
look in the mirror and put yourself down,
neglect you, lie to yourself, require and demand too much of yourself,
take up all of your own time, ruin your own credit, cheat on yourself,
get locked up and visit yourself every weekend,
disappoint yourself, ignore yourself,
insult yourself and make yourself cry and then
after you’ve done all that
ask you to get back with you and see what the answer is.
play with your own life, baby
cuz mine is too serious for that.
it’s much too precious for me to get involved in your haphazard games
so despite all you have done, i will love you but from a distance
but
you cannot play with my life, baby.


Monkey Babies


*Written July 5, 2008*

i was watching TV the other night and i saw
rich people buying monkeys to raise them as babies.
what ever happened to adoption?
as another black child or baby is in foster care crying or getting abused,
rich white people are buying colorful satin dresses to put on little monkeys with diapers.
they’re “part of the family” and go everywhere with them.
they get fed lollipops and McDonald’s french fries even when they’re bad
and i wonder about that suffering child watching TV wherever they are
and seeing a monkey getting fed fries and
wondering when they’ll get their share.
grabbing at the screen,
they realize too that a monkey is preferable to them,
more desired company,
then they see a three minute commercial about protecting the dog community,
sigh,
and realize that this world has no concern for human beings.