Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “pain

From the Day We Met (Haikus)

from the day we met,

God has grown closer to me



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!

The Time of the Month Blues

pain, cramping, bloating;
blood clots, tear drops, emoting;
gas pain, headache, egg waste.

void of child and patience;
one more month of freedom;
emotional clock still works
(strong batteries run in my family).

caged body, sweaty forehead, foreign smell;
gross-feeling, penis-envying, horny as hell;
quiet, reflective, sensitive.

28 days are not long enough.
7 days are just too much.
but at least I’m still young enough–
either that or life has a slow way of catching up.

whatever it is,
whenever it is this time of the month,
my heavy breasts make my heart sink a little;
each body part that once was little
grows before my eyes
as my capacity to deal with it all shrinks.

potential life exits
only to recreate its possibility
again and again.

Retrospect Haiku

i lost all i had,

then met you and gained it back;

maybe pain’s not bad.

Midnight Eyes

midnight eyes with dew on lashes
wish for love in the daylight–
a reason to burst with emotion
other than anger or tantrum.
if love were a tantrum,
how would it express its youth?
would it stomp hearts and scream obscenities such as
“Don’t leave me!” or “I need you?”
or would it just stream down tears of joy
and sit in a corner of the world known by most
but frowned upon
once left?

midnight eyes dream of stories in books
transformed into reality
so that days become pages
turned slowly and dog-eared for later reference,
an experience that good.
“That’s good,”
midnight eyes whisper when viewing
movies with method actors using realism
to display fantasy only realized in screens.

midnight eyes want to become alive,
want fiction to turn real–
not “keep it real” real,
but “blood pouring out of feet when glass is stepped on” real;
undeniable like the hour when yawns take over energy
and eyes get droopy until morning.

midnight eyes do not want to wake
until full moons shine too bright
and stars sink into sight lines without effort.
until then, midnight eyes stay closed
until sunrise.

Accidental Epiphany

on a sunny summer day
at one of my lowest points,
i walked alongside a river
and casually considered jumping in
as a way to end my pain.

i stopped moving for a moment
and took notice of the beauty
that coursed through everything around me.
the water danced in ripples back and forth,
and in it, ducks swam.
they were so precious and careless and abundant.

it occurred to me
that if God could create this life-giving body of water
that flowed before me,
and could take care of creatures so much smaller than me,
then of course,
he would watch over and provide for me.

an epiphany–
when overused cliche words
finally became real
all because of pain
i didn’t want to feel.

Old Me

i now sometimes wonder where
the old me went.
did she die a miserable death
to match her painful existence?
or does she live in my chest,
keeping my heart beating
through reminders of what she used to be?
or maybe she still lives in me,
a skinny, emaciated girl
underneath the skin of a woman
who smiles even when she’s sleeping now.

her tears keep me hydrated
and her scars only make me more beautiful.
her pain i wear like a necklace of rememberance,
perfect pearls all unique. wherever she went,
i’m happy she’s not as present
when i look in the mirror,
glad that when i dance now,
she’s not stepping on my feet.

she kisses my feet now,
washes them with tears
and absorbs the fluid in her afro hair.
she serves me
and is near,
perhaps closer than i think she is.

i think she is me–
only happy.

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.

I May Get Lonely Sometimes

i may get lonely sometimes,
question the love of those around me,
long for the feeling of arms around me–
circling, grasping, speaking in the form of squeezing
and making me feel safe in this dangerous world.
but i’m not alone.

i have known alone,
moved into a room in her home,
making my bed every morning
until i was evicted by joy,
pulled out kicking and screaming by love,
and left on the street disappointed by the affirmation
that at times,
i will be lonely
even when i am surrounded by love
from those around me.

you see,
loneliness doesn’t depend on the outside conditions.
loneliness is birthed when a piece of your heart is missing.
beats don’t occur at the same time rhythm
and if you stay there long enough,
you become a victim.

i may get lonely sometimes,
even cry sometimes
and i’ve wept sometimes
and i’ve wanted to die sometimes
but the love that i feel at times
make all those feelings a waste of time,
make me feel like if i just had some time
to count all the times
where i received love i didn’t deserve,
was reminded of my self-worth,
succeeded when life didn’t seem to work
and healed beautifully from pain that hurt me,
then lonely wouldn’t even be
an issue.

i may get lonely sometimes,
but i am filled with love that pushes out emotion
and shines light on truth like
being lonely gives me time to think
and being lonely lets me discover me
and being lonely makes me appreciate company
and laughter and life and love
even more.

so here is to my lonely sometimes.
you will not hold me down this time.
love will prevail
and so will i.

Healthy Bulimia

fresh acid burning in the back of my throat,
darkening my teeth
and freeing that stabbing feeling
in the pit of my stomach,
i purge all that is negative
out of me.
i used to look at bitterness and anger and self loathing
and pain and pity
and say desperately, “feed me”
but i’ve found new food today.
tears of joy and peace as toxins release
and when i breathe,
i am a new person.

the world is so different now.

i didn’t know i was viewing life through dirty eyeglasses,
mistaking danger for greener pastures.
now i see what i was missing.
i am emptying,
slowly but surely
and in the future,
i see me happy
and dancing like no one is looking,
living like everyone is looking,
and free
to not care either way.


there are some people who honestly believe that
if they focus intently enough,
they can make the flame of a candle
rise and fall with their thoughts.
much too often, i have been a fool,
played the fool for that same trap,
thinking that i can create sparks in acquainted hearts,
mistaking kindness for interest
and my loneliness for the possibility of love.
once a pyromaniac,
i now flee from fire,
keep an extinguisher on my back
and with it, i aim and fire
at possibilities,
the potential for romantic stories,
trapped in the fog of my history,
chest burning too painfully to see reality.
i no longer even attempt to stare,
have substituted my gaze for a blank empty glare
like a blind woman who has miraculously regained her sight
but still wears sunglasses because
she’s used to not opening her eyes.

is my fear that the future is too bright
or that all will be white?
absence of color,
absence of hope,
no patience to stare at fire,
seeking another foolish hobby
like solitude.


creature with natural mother and father
thinks that she ought a discover
the outside world before she looks in the mirror
and sees she’s no longer
a girl, but a woman with wrinkles
and not enough experience
to call herself such.
she could have advanced farther,
but she takes risks too much,
throws 100 percent into the basket
like she’s strong rum,
fell in love hard but discovered
he was the wrong one.
or maybe she was just dumb
and if that’s the truth to be told,
where’s the dunce hat that won’t fit over her afro?
people ask her what’s wrong
and why her eyes shine,
but really she don’t know,
she’s unaware of what got her here,
as if pain gagged and blindfolded her,
walked her to the car and made her sit in the rear
and took a long drive
to a place far away and unknown
but traveling is needed to survive
and growth keeps a woman beautiful.
“are we there yet?” she asks
when she sees her heart break;
“are we there yet?” she wonders
when risks turn to mistakes.
“are we there yet?” she yells
when her frustration is replaced by hate
and “are we there yet?” she thinks
when she’s cold inside and outside.

young girl-woman-child,
hold your head high
cuz you’re still alive.

I Miss Heartbreak

i have known heartbreak.
i have held her hands and
even kissed her salty tears
like we were lovers and best friends.
i do not see her often.
i lost her phone number and replaced memories of her
with blockages
that irreversibly alter the traffic pattern to my heart.
i have boobie-trapped the path to reaching me
so much so that no one dares
set their feet on the journey
and if they do, it remains incomplete.

for some odd reason,
i miss heartbreak.
i miss real tears of genuine nature
without feeling so mature
that i am rarely moved by anything or anyone
or any one of the things that used to affect me.
i miss heartbreak:
the jagged zig-zags in the middle of my overworked organ
were so much more interesting
than the stitches that have replaced them.
these stitches don’t bend or even allow love through their holes.
they have even stretched to hang a sign
that always reads “closed”.

oh, this life of mine
where i miss pain and am scared of joy,
where i miss crying and the future seems more like a ploy
to drag me where i don’t want to go
and teach me hard lessons that i already know
and spiral me into a world where i’m in control
and afraid of four-letter words
that break my five-letter heart.

Victim vs. Victimizer

i used to be so afraid of you, man.
my biggest fear for so long
was running into you on a dark street,
alone and scared with no one to help me
and no options of what to do;
that i would be forced to be victim once more
to the fleeting whims
you love to succumb to.

but you looked so weak–
more like a house mouse than a dirty rat,
more afraid of me than i am of you.
as you stood staring at me, i smelled that
fear was seeping out of your pores
and your pheromones filled the air,
and just like how you treated me–
they stunk.
but they gave me strength to continue
to stand taller
and feel stronger
as you stared at the woman whose life you ruined
for a little while but whose smile
now lives on.

i have become superhuman.
i am stretching back to the size
i’m supposed to be in this world,
reclaiming my territory
that you so selfishly stole,
and now you have no control.
what you did
has no control.
the pain you caused
has no control.
growing my strength and power
is my ultimate goal
and i am closer to it now
more than ever.

arch nemesis,
i’ve fantasized for many days and nights
of the different ways i could end your life,
but now i laugh at you.
you thought you would ruin me,
tried to take the best of me,
but now if finally see
that God was just preparing me.
where i’m going
i gotta have my powers to know
that whatever blow comes my way,
i’m meant to feel the pain today
so that i can see tomorrow clearly.
tomorrow, i will look at the scars of tears and sorrow
and not repeat the mistakes of yesterday
but fly away without looking back.

thank you for helping me
sprout wings on my back.

And So the Truth Comes Out

i sometimes find myself moved by
the misery of others
and in these slivers of time,
i now wonder
if my emotion is birthed from true sympathy
for what they are experiencing
or the fear that their tragedy
will happen to me.

an honest answer is like a kiss
and as someone who likes to lock lips, i can’t resist.
if you ask whether my tears and sadness
sometimes come from selfishness,
the answer is

Their Fingers

their fingers range in colors
like shades of lipstick at a M.A.C. counter
and each tried to count her tears
but fell asleep with puddles of misery
seeping in her ears
and when they awoke with matted hair
stuck to the sides of their faces,
they realized that memory doesn’t erase itself
but only is kind and rewinds for new days of reliving
that which women wish were forgotten.
you should see their fingers…
some blackened by lighter flames,
some blistered by working many days, and some so soft,
you’d think they never worked a day in their life.
they use their fingers in many ways,
to touch the skin on their own bodies
or to point them at thieves who tried to reprogram their use
to only hush their own concerns and stay folded and numb.
their fingers are beautiful
but afraid to reach out because reaching out
sometimes results in someone pushing in;
being nice sometimes results in violation
and sometimes tips of fingers get bitten so that they are ineffective
and can’t redial the police when necessary
or wave together at bystanders who could offer assistance.
their fingers sometimes get limp
but are able to dance late at night when sleep should dominate
and able to scratch and sniff good times
and magic erase tragedy and blur together evenly
so that fingers make up women survivors who learn to smile again
and band again and move again
and be again and be even more than
just fingers
but whole persons, complete humans
ranging in shades to create
a beautiful prism of survivors
of pain.

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.

Pointing Fingers

pointing-fingersif one day God had to point his
larger than life finger
at the group of his creations
that he considered to be
the weak,
who would they be?

i would hope not me…

i would pray through whispers in his ears
that he would see
all he has allowed my back to bear.
like two full buckets of water
tied to a broomstick of over my shoulders,
i have done slave labor through pains
with each year i have grown older.
i’ve got a tree on my back from the plantation of life
and it branches out in the weirdest ways, like
how i laugh at things that didn’t used to be funny
and how i get used to postponed plans
due to lack of money
and how the only green on my leaves
stems from envy of those
who dare to move beyond the scars of trees.

God better not point that finger at me
because my strength is what has allowed me to be
where i am right now.
i think back to how i never thought i’d reach right now
and how i’ve mud wrestled with demons
who try to break me down.
even when the wet sticky dirt gets slung in my eyes,
i rub them and see past hopelessness,
let the stinging tears fall
as i envision all of my journey–
cobblestoned and unpaved,
slick and wet like unfinished cement
and full of more potholes and speed bumps
than i’d choose to drive over
and just when i thought it was over…

i feel fingers pointing at me

but they’re not from God..
they’re scrawny and dirty under the nails
and they come from the hands of this girl
named myself
who is trying to figure out her dwelling place
on the barometer of the weak,
not seeing that she doesn’t even fit
into this cage of mercury…

i burst past thermometer meters
because my hotness reaches temperatures
higher than hell during code red weather with
one million people dancing and vibing together while
all shouting at the same time with
sweat rolling down their backs
and they’re all wearing black.
i’m strong like every single mother
who has been disappointed but still takes care of home,
like the person on their deathbed
who pulls through and lives on,
like the girl in the mirror who asks a silly question,
hoping for confirmation that
God isn’t pointing fingers
but wrapping arms,
shielding me from my own extremities
that mean to do me harm.

Me…It’s What’s For Dinner

SATURN DEVOURING HIS CHILDREN (1824) by Francisco de Goya.

i am a lovely dish
on a porcelain dinner plate.
who has the pleasure of devouring me tonight?
is it lust?
on some nights, that answer would be right,
but this time the diner is one
with a more refined taste.
his name is ambition
and he drools as he stares at my face.
he prefers to eat me raw like oysters on a half shell,
relishes in my taste and puts me through hell.
i wish the roles were reversed–
that i could be sitting in a fine dining establishment
and order plates of ambition to my heart’s content.
i would eat like a glutton and be worry-free,
having taken control of what controls me.
but of course this is just a dream–
ambition bites my head so i can’t concentrate,
then he plays with my body as he scrapes the plate.
is it too late to decide
that i don’t want to be consumed?
or will i forever be confined
to this miserable doom?
i am food,
meant to be chewed and digested
by plans that i myself suggested.
although it hurts to be bitten
by my own brainchild,
there’s no place i’d rather be right now.
i am in a time of transition,
not fully cooked
but attractive enough to be eaten,
strong enough to be on the plate
and not lying in a corner beaten.
i have this plan…
since i taste rather delicious,
once ambition has scarfed me down
and scraped all the dishes,
i will cause a chemical reaction in his insides
and play with the pool
where his stomach acid resides.
i will swim there and cause a riot
until he realizes all too late
that he can’t tolerate me in his diet.
from there he will regurgitate
and i will come out victorious
before it’s too late.
i am not just a lovely dish
on a porcelain dinner plate,
but one who has learned to wait
until the appropriate time and hour to fight.

i am not one to be devoured.
i sit at the table tonight
and i have the power.

Beautiful Pain

i never thought i’d reach
a moment where i’d be calling my pain
scars and scabs oozing with pus
are nasty.
bruises and sprains tend to fracture reality
but somehow agony
has turned into wisdom.
i wish i could have witnessed the transformation for myself
instead of being numbed by happy pills
but perhaps that’s what i needed at the time.
embracing what has hurt me
is what makes it mine.
i add to the anthology of my life
and see that i have every genre imaginable.
i am tragic, comedic, absurd, realism,
poetry, rap, classical, jazz, impressionism,
collage, renaissance, abstract and awesome
all rolled into one.
i consider certain events that have happened to me
that i wish never did,
drama i’ve been a part of since i was a kid
and see that removing the pain would be like
extracting the salt from food
or the alcohol from wine–
what would be the point?
my life has been flavorful,
sometimes over-seasoned but always
sometimes horribly clashing
but beautiful
and last but not least,

Map of a Migraine

are a manifestation of the heart exploding.
my dreams have nowhere to go
and they grow
as my capacity to achieve them feels
i wish i was a little bit taller
so i could reach up and grab them
as they bounce up and down,
starting at the ground from which they grow.
they travel through my toes
and up my calves which walk paths
in the opposite direction.
they stop in my hips and feel cold
from lack of affection.
they strive to reach my heart,
which beats for them
but these tunes or not in tune–
my dreams say “i’m ready now!”
and my heart says “too soon.”
so up they go,
trying to enter my brain
as my consciousness of how far away i am
drives me insane.
my soul can’t take
the screeching halt of my dreams’ brakes
so it retaliates
by giving me an extreme headache.
migraines are revenge
for every time i ignore what’s within.
my dreams yell in my head
to remind me that they are not dead.
and as the pain dissipates,
i get another chance
to achieve them again.

Even Jesus Wept

people who don’t cry make me uncomfortable.
i view them as narcissists or at best, con artists
who try to lure other people into believing
that they possess superhuman strength,
powers that allow them to contain
unbearable amounts of pain
without ever exploding.
what fools they are.
they are not aware that the shedding of tears
is a gift.
even Jesus wept
before raising Lazarus from the dead.
the shedding of tears is a blessing.
the shedding of tears precedes a blessing,
connecting the pain that is felt
to God himself
and when these two powerful forces come together,
miracles happen.

what if we looked at every tear as a miracle?
maybe we wouldn’t wipe them away so hastily
but let them rest on our skin to warm our insides
one pore at a time.
how beautiful would pain be then?
perhaps too magnificent to even look at it
for too long,
so we would have to peer through holes in cups
like we learned to do at eclipses
because the power of the catalyst to tears
is too much to fathom,
too profound to “ooh” and “ahh” at
so the wise ones accept as fact
that times of tears will come.

but those who refuse to cry
miss out on the magic that they possess inside.
the holding in of tears precedes the curse
of never being able to witness and experience
the miracle of connection,
the beauty of suffering,
and the pleasure of release.
even Jesus wept
before raising Lazarus from the dead.
the shedding of tears is a blessing.


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.

The Book

i’m turning a new page
with paper cuts on my fingers,
pushing hard to move on
but the pain seems to linger.
my mind considers
how a few months ago was disaster
and how today
i want so bad to read a new chapter.
i’ve seen previews in dark rooms, sat in my seat
waiting to see how soon
or how long i’d have to patiently wait
on my release date
but while i munch my popcorn i think
maybe it’s fate
that i’ve been cut from trying to skip pages.
so reluctantly i turn to the table of contents
and read down the list in order
so that next time i’ll be content
with taking this life one step by one
because the end of a story is just as important
as how it begun.

Adjust Me

dear Lord,
i want to smell pretty flowers
and walk though the trees,
be with nature so long
that i can’t tell the difference between
the soft earth and my feet.
i want to breathe…
marvel at how luxurious the breeze feels
on the back of my neck,
walk in circular paths until i get answers,
an explanation and description
of the way to go straight.

dear Lord,
i don’t want to be crooked anymore.
adjust my limbs and pull on my heart
until there’s some symmetry there,
so one side does not dominate
more than the other.
i want to be loving without being foolish,
hopeful without being clueless,
sentimental without being depressed
and free without being a mess.
stability would be nice too
because i don’t know about You,
but i’m tired of waking up exhausted
from all that my emotions put me through,
being dragged by thoughts and dreams
that ought not to be.
i am tortured by me.

dear Lord,
adjust my life.
i know the past is already done
but i pray that someone will come along
to change things.
i’ve heard to write my plans in pencil
and my past has been written in ink
while all i have is an eraser
but You have white-out,
so i ask you to blot out
every time i cried my eyes out
and replace it with pearls.
deck me out in jewelry for every time
experience made a fool of me.
let each ounce of my pain
equate to a pearl on the string
that wraps around my neck which connects
to my head held high.

i am already adjusted.