Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “prayer

A Rape Deferred


if a woman cries rape and police don’t respond,
does the crime make a sound?
a drum beat,
a whisper,
a rushed “Psssttttt!”
a ghetto “Ay yooooooooo!”
a moan,
a scream,
a gasp,
a catching of breath,
a clap,
a stomp,
a hiss,
or leaky faucet “drip-drop”?
does the clock even let out a “tick-tock”
or does time just stop
when a woman’s rights are denied?
with no batteries changed in the watch,
the year could be 5 B.C., 1964, or 2011.
does an angel cry in heaven?
does God send down thunder and rain,
or does he console her quietly through her pain?
is there even a sigh,
a Holy Ghost-filled prayer,
an explosion of violence?
or just silence?

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Make Me Skinny


God, please make me skinny.
remember when i was little girl
and i had long limbs like Twiggy?
well now i got a big ol’ booty, wide hips and overpowering titties
and i just wanna be skinny.
remember when i was younger
and i had long limbs like Twiggy?
and i asked you for some sexy, my period and titties?
well i take that back–
just make me skinny
so i can walk without the guilt of curves,
the memories built in to the angles of my hips
that remember hands that sat there and lips that kissed
and arms that grabbed and hearts that beat as one
and the fun i used to have watching my womanhood blossom.
now i wish i could be a little girl again,
pre-pubescent so i can start over again
with the knowledge of today wrapped around my head
like bandages to control the bleeding
from lies i’ve been fed
like “growing up is fun”
and “you should try everything at least once.”
God, please be kind and rewind
and remember the time
when i had long limbs like Twiggy
and make me skinny.


Listen


listen.
you strain your voice, calling God incessantly.
if you spoke quietly, you would hear that he’s already
talking to you.
he operates rhythmically like your heartbeat,
coursing and consistent as the blood being pumped
throughout your whole system.
like oxygen in your lungs,
he is airy and light and moving,
waiting for the point when we are attentive
instead of missing him,
dismissing him
by choosing talking over listening,
picking ignorance, which is life threatening
and our own words,
which are deafening.


I Used to Pray


i swear i used to pray daily
but then one evening before i went to sleep,
i stood up and saw that the skin on my knees
was crackly like sandpaper.
so i stopped stooping down so far to the ground
and prayed laying down
but i would be traveling to far away towns of REM sleep
before i would even complete thoughts
or say “Amen”
and then
i’d be awake and what i wanted to ask for would not be.
it’s been so long that i’m scared God won’t wanna hear from me
like he’ll find my voice ugly
or unrecognizable and tell me i dialed the wrong number
that i should try again and next time call my selfishness
and if she hangs up,
reach out to my cynicism
and get on three-way with my doubt
and click over and talk to vulgarity
because she is always on the other line.
i stay up for hours every night talking on the phone
to the identities of mine that have made a home
in my psyche.
i’ve sent eviction notices but they won’t leave,
tormenting my every steps
and i never know what will come next
and all the fighting leaves me perplexed
and unable to bend down to my knees again
for wanting to avoid the experience
of hurting myself by hoping
for the uncertain.


Prayer of the Lost


i am lost,
i know i am.
i drop to my knees and fold my hands
and close my eyes and clear my mind
and wait for the Lord to speak
and hear absolutely…
nothing.
i clasp my fingers tighter as my legs fall asleep
and get an ache in my wrists
from waiting for Him
to remind me that He
really exists
and still there’s not a sound.
my legs sink deeper into the quicksand of the ground
that has claimed more lives it seems
than the God in my dreams.
i think of a homeless man i saw near rainy midnight,
jogging between lanes of a busy street,
flailing his arms as headlights shone
in the puddles by his feet
and he screamed at the approaching wheels,
begging them to slide over his misery
so that he could float high into the sky,
free from thunder and lightning
and finally see the God i’m inviting
in on my prayers.
i know where that man is
even though i am here,
not confident anymore
to drop to my knees;
not focused anymore
to listen for a voice that has nodules in its throat,
perhaps it’s hoarse
from coaxing me out of past pain
and needing to remind me of lessons
already learned again and again,
probably tired from my ignorance and illiteracy
in reading the signs of what is good and bad for me.
my knees ache,
the mushy ground shakes,
i’ve made some mistakes
and don’t know how to pray.
i want smiles to stay and God to be awake
and to escape the nightmare
of ignored prayers,
wake up and no longer be here
but where i was, whatever that was,
maybe that’s why i was
on the path to where i am now.
maybe this is how
genuine communication feels.
one person begging and the other not even real,
imaginary in the circumstance of caring,
devoid of the quality of sharing,
and blankly staring
as i break down the innards of my heart
hoping that the God i think is listening
will recognize the random parts
and find some sort of consistency
and give me a reason to drop down to my knees another day
and pray.


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.

actually,
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.


A Prayer For The Stranger Who is My Husband


God, i pray for my husband–
that he will be logical
and strong enough
to handle
me.
sometimes i operate so emotionally
that i treat my heart with irresponsibility,
not only wearing it on my sleeve
but throwing it at the back of a man’s head
in moments of distress,
hoping that once it bounces off
and leaves a knot,
i will feel at rest.
i will need a husband
whose skull will be hard enough
to counter mine,
who will pick up my heart after it’s been thrown,
brush the dust off with gentle hands
and place it back in my chest
to beat calmly again;
one who possesses
a gentle enough face
for me to feel a twinge of guilt
for wanting to make him pay
unjustly for my
distorted perceptions of the truth;
a husband who
will love me out of the habit
of abusing the most crucial organ in my body
and give a long enough embrace
to keep my restored heart
in its proper place,
and pull me out of the way
of thinking that tells me
that violence is a way to be heard,
show me the true meaning of love
that in today’s society seems absurd.
i pray that he is a teacher,
a fighter,
a healer,
a lover,
a meditator,
a mediator,
a thinker
and a son
who like a piece of clay,
You have molded and shaped
into a pot
that even in my emotional states,
i am unable
to break.