Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “rape

Shiver


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
shiver.


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?


Aftermath


am i mad?
why do you ask?
i’m fine.
i
think i am
confused,
but not mad,
just a little
messed up
in the head.
i mean,
what really happened?
we met,
became friends,
went on a couple dates
and now i’m
frozen.
but it’s summer.
why am i so cold?
it’s hot in here
but i’m shivering.
i can’t believe
what just took place.
you invaded my space,
took advantage of my weakness and forced yourself upon me
like i was a pair of tight shoes
or a seat on a crowded bus.
you squeezed into my crevices and corners
without invitation
and i’m sitting here cold
and crying
cuz i thought
you were a gentleman.


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.


You Ruined Nature


you ruined nature for me.
when we met,
it was the beginning of spring
when the rain smelled sweet
and the daytime breeze was something else…
i released breath with the same synchronicity
as the sun beaming and the birds singing.
and then when it was storming!
no one sent me a warning
that mother nature would be raped.

months later, as the leaves change colors and die
and the Fahrenheit scales are no longer high,
i walk outside and the sky is gray,
cold is the sweetheart of rain,
the flowers aren’t even bright
and five o’clock holds hands with the darkness of night
and i still can’t believe
that you ruined nature for me.

i climbed into a hollowed-out sideways tree
that was like a cubby hole in the children’s library
and finally i felt like i could breathe.
confined by rough bark and mud all around me,
i saw the beauty
of creations that are unaffected by my emotional hurricanes.
they weather storms because life is part of the forecast
and i could learn a lesson or two
from that philosophy.

you didn’t actually ruin nature for me,
but instead helped see its resiliency
which provides for me
an example for me of natural beauty
that accompanies strength and willpower.
April showers didn’t bring May flowers,
but instead hours upon hours of pain
that transformed into days
which have now become months .
i want to be free like the trees
that i now see differently–
change colors like the leaves
and blow wherever the wind takes me,
lighthearted and free
despite what you did to me.


Time for Revenge


she brandished a gun without fear.
fear had fallen out her bedroom window while
reaching out and grabbing for her trust of humanity.
so now she relished in the feel of cold steel.
it warmed up the steam coming out of her ears
and the fire that burned in her heart.

now was the time for revenge…

prescription pills could never give her this feeling.
unanswered prayers could never provide the healing
that she so desperately looked for
so shakingly she knocked at the door,
brandishing a gun without fear.
she no longer cared,
she was no longer scared,
no longer normal.
whatever normal means was erased by her rape.

now was the time for revenge…

time to claim what was lost,
time for this segment of her saga to end.
she was no longer a victim but victimizer,
no longer the controlled but the controller,
no longer lost but herself like God with plans
because here at this moment, she had life in her hands.
“Funny how the tables turn,” she chuckled
as she turned toward the man
who had stolen her future without knowing.
she laughed some more at the tear running down his right eye,
elated that his true coward colors were showing.

now was the time for revenge…

she brandished a gun without fear finally feeling
like she was achieving her freedom.
her finger on the trigger trembled from excitement
of actually having a chance to fight back,
but when she finally pulled back,
all she heard was “CLICK!”
and then the beeping of an alarm clock
and a feeling in her belly that made her sick.

dreams of killing were the only thing
that satisfied her desire for winning back what was taken.
she couldn’t do it in real life
and she hoped that in her dreams she might
carry out the bloody plan that played over and over in her head,
but here she is lying in bed,
still subject to screams of silence
and inward anger growing more intense
and the aftermath of life events
that leave her tortured, tense
and truly terrified of tomorrow.

she brandishes her nightmares with fear.
she brandishes her life with fear,
fearing that
there is no real time for revenge.


She Didn’t Want to Be the Cause


she said
she didn’t want to be the cause of
another black man goin to jail.
she said
“my men have come from such a tough journey.
their rights
have been taken from them
and they have been stripped
of their masculinity.”
she said
“he is a victim.
i don’t want to be another factor.”

now i can understand
where this woman is comin from cuz by all means,
black men have not had it easy
but
as i stared in the mirror
at her scratching her stress-caused hives,
observed her fidgety movements, how she
shivered
even though it was warm outside
and saw tears welling up in her eyes
that she refused to cry,
i begged her,
implored her
to think of herself,
to consider her mental health
and the effects
of not speaking up.
i asked her
if she wanted to continue to cry in fits
and pray for the end of her own existence,
if she wanted to live in fear of re-experiencing this brutal sin
or be so afraid of men
that even gentle touch made her cringe
and she was silent.

she couldn’t think straight.
she couldn’t breathe
but she mustered up enough courage to see
that even though she didn’t want to be the cause
of another black man goin to jail,
she could no longer stand
the heatstrokes and dehydration from living in hell.
she felt bad
because he is a victim
but she had to admit that she was a victim
too
and that if she didn’t speak out,
the victim she tried to love
could potentially create a mass of new victims
who like her
were terrified to tell
because they didn’t want to be the cause
of another black man goin to jail.


The Unheard “No”


*Written July 5, 2008*

she cried “No!” but her voice was not loud enough.
it was quieted by her past,
her first boyfriends who taught her how to kiss
and sneak into quiet staircases to explore her newfound womanhood.
her voice was clogged up by times she spoke and was told to shut up,
to quiet down because her opinion didn’t matter.
she was stifled by yesterday, drowned out by
the noise of moans of pleasure that came from relationships of pain.
she had learned to get used to her yells being whispers,
only to be heard by her and her alone.
she tried to turn her voice into subliminal messages,
tried to use facial expressions to convey what she really meant,
hoped that her body language would translate into
the denial, affirmation, confirmation or discomfort that she faced in daily life.
she thought that maybe she could get through life without speaking,
just holding onto the images of what she wanted,
afraid to verbalize them for fear that they would be
crushed, stomped upon, or thrown out in the garbage.
quiet was kind of okay after a while–
it made her seem mysterious, like a special box that needed to be opened.
but on that night when she said “No” because her box,
which was meant to be a precious gift, was being ripped apart,
she was not heard.
she tried to push past the raspiness in her throat
from unspoken thoughts and opinions
but nothing came out.
as she felt her canal widened with foreign flesh,
she wished that she had taken those opportunities in her past
to use her voice.
as sweat rolled down her forehead and stung her eyes
and trickled down the curves of her spine,
she wished that she had a glass of truth
to quench her dry throat so controlled by lies
and glossed over, acceptable responses.
she wished she could go back and take back each and every instance where
she shrugged her shoulders
or said “Yes” or
“That’s OK” or
“It’s not that serious” or
“I’ll be alright” or
“I forgive you”
but the hour had passed her, escaped her life.
so here she was flying out of her own body,
searching the universe for the “No” that she never spoke that was just
seconds, moments, minutes, hours, days, grades, hesitations away,
hoping that the next time she used the word,
unlike this time,
it wouldn’t be too late.


The System is a Joke


*Written June 24, 2008*

the system is a joke
we sit with our popcorn and soda
in comfortable seats that lean back
and chit chat and laugh at the punchlines
we forget that what we see on the screen
is for some people reality
black man slain by the police
and all officers are acquitted
ha
soldiers die in the name of freedom
countless anonymous others killed
in a senseless war of greed
ha ha
R. Kelly pisses on a teenage girl on tape
gets off free and
sings about it
ha ha ha
countless women raped,
dragged through the system
only for cases to be dropped
for lack of sufficient evidence
ha ha ha ha ha
laugh with me!
stomp your feet and slap your thigh
let your eyes fill up with tears
tap your neighbor and share in the moment
put your feet up
and let your eyes adjust to the darkness
that surrounds you
because as long as you stay disconnected
as long as you’re complacent
and eat the junk that’s given to you,
unless you are provoked,
this system
these lives
these lies
are all a joke.