Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “self

Bubble Burst


burst bubbles
leave wetness in the air.
then remnants of fun disappear
from what was once floating, happy.
i thought you were my friend,
thought you liked to play with me,
run around with wands and create magic,
but instead you wreak havoc,
have hands that cleverly and cruelly crush my creations.
you pretend to participate.
you destroy with a smile.

lucky for me,
i have enough joy in my jar to last me past today;
sudsy water, love and hope
to survive your hate;
enough to make me a huge bubble to float along sun-shining skies,
higher than the place where i care about how you feel
and low enough where just being happy for myself
is more than enough.


Growth into Beauty


i feel like i am
JUST
growing in to my beauty.
before, my skin was
sunset:
confidence fading into cloudy horizon,
but bright morning has finally come
and when i smile,
i swear i can hear birds singing!
eyes bright
from all the yawning around me,
skin glowing.

love of self
was a hard seed that just needed nurturing,
extra time soaking in the water of my tears
until sprouting occurred.
now it is flourishing,
deeply rooted like a tree,
arms stretched, strong enough
to hold the weight of the little children
i‘ll be responsible for
feeding reminders of their worth.

it’s as if i gave birth,
belly no longer swollen with doubt,
removal of morning sickness
and mother
to past, present and future experiences.

and i am
STILL
growing into my beauty,
hoping to be
an adult one day.


All of Me


Sometimes my fellow poetry bloggers will write something so thought-provoking or inspiring, that I can’t help but respond in poetry. One poet I admire, Malcolm James Furst, did so yesterday (see my About section) and caused me to write the poem you see below. I’ve decided to call it “All of Me”:

Mr. Furst,

if i could be half on stage
what i am on page,
i am not sure if i would have the need
for poems.

you see, the true me is so scary,
a sight not to be looked at with unprotected eyes,
like Moses staring at God for the first time;
so instead of revealing my true self in person,
i write.
and in that writing,
there is so much room and space to be me
that my honesty starts dancing
without caring who’s looking.

i mean,
i get into a groove
to an ever-changing beat in my own head–
forget two-stepping!
i move in free verses still i start sweatin,
til my permed hair starts thickening
or my afro starts shrinking
or my weave starts frizzing;
til the winding of my waist becomes dizzying;
til i’m the last one on the floor
and lights are being turned out
and janitors start mopping around my feet
and even the wetness of the soapy water inspires me.

and all that is left is poetry.
and reality.
and all of me.


Confusing Passion


i hunger for something to be passionate about
aside from love.
love is so
transient,
so full of
longing.
half of the word, “love”
is made of vowels
and the opening of my mouth to say the
“o”
gets me every time.

how can i spend time being passionate about
something so difficult to define,
so misused and abused and confusing
to the eye?
and the ear?
and the heart?

but passion lies in the heart.
i wish passion would wake up and stretch its limbs
to my brain, become
tangible
for once and manifest itself in my days.
passion doesn’t pay bills
and neither does love.

it just adds more debts.
i owe words
and being present
and truly listening
and affection
and kisses
and staying up late when i’m tired
and compromise
and future-building
and seriousness
and effort.

i gain so much,
but i owe so much of myself.
and i’m just getting to know myself.


Newborn Baby Tears for My Old Self


sometimes i still cry for the old me
and i feel guilty cuz
the new me is
happy.

but i miss the old me’s extremes–
blind faith and concrete
black and white ideals
until evil jet black pushed into petrified pink
surprisingly, painfully.

suffering isn’t ideal.
neither are tears and grief
for a version of myself
mummified by cries that came so often
that when tears ran out,
a new woman appeared:

tougher skin,
sharper words,
deeper melancholy buried in
soft soil of smiles
and brutal honesty.
she is beauty all while
crying internally,
confused at her existence:
a newborn baby
with a 25-year-old body.


Visions of Grandeur


if i had boots that were big enough,
i would put them on,
walk through bright pink paint
and stomp on the earth
to leave my footprints.

i’d want the world to remember me
and maybe i’m obnoxious
for wanting to stain it with my favorite color,
but i don’t want to just be
another broke down wannabe artist
too afraid to start shit
and content with mediocrity.
i want to be a visionary
pushing up against obstacles
and daring opposition to conquer me;
i want to be too big for my britches,
for my heart to be so huge that
i bust out of the constraints of stitches;
i want people to forget my real name
and call me “The Dreamer”
with the middle name “Doer”
and the last name “Believer,”
one who used to be an underachiever
til she looked in the mirror
and saw who she really was.

i lost who i really was,
hypnotizing myself to be content with 9-5 consistency
of knowing how much my checks will be.
depending on direct deposit every two weeks
never matches the sensation of expressing the true me
through this art that consumes me.

without art,
who is me?
just a big heart,
tongue stuck in dry mouth,
words afraid to come out,
soul waiting to talk,
and feet too small to even walk.


Defiance


i know the rules,
but i don’t care.
i have memorized the stipulations of life,
studied them to find out why they apply
but at the end of the day,
i just want things my way.

is that wrong?
what does your reply matter anyway?
i hate to be rude or hurt feelings
but i’ve finally reached a point
where i can decipher my feelings from fact,
can tell the difference between myself
and how i’ve been told i should act
and i only have enough energy to pretend on stage.

truth hurts others
but to me, it is freeing.
come smile at the sunshine with me,
who smiles for the self that was too scared
to even look out the window,
let alone step outside
to stare at the sky.


I’m Selfish


love me out of my selfishness.
i have been robbed of me more times
than i feel comfortable to speak of
so now i do my best to keep up
with my own well-being.
every decision i make has to pass the litmus test
of how it feels in my gut
and when i’m in an emotional rut,
i cut people off like hangnails,
never mind the details,
just don’t be surprised if you get the voicemail
every time you call me.

i have never met real royalty,
but still i try to treat myself like a queen,
follow the commands of my inner voice
and what makes me happy is the final choice.
i bow to myself in mirrors
and smile so brightly that now my eyes are clearer,
feed myself only the best
and even sacrifice other people’s desire for my company
for quiet moments of rest.

but i know i am selfish
(or self-absorbed to say the least)
so i ask you to love me in a way that will transform me,
show me that i can share,
prove to me that it’s OK to give again,
that if i get hurt again,
i can heal again;
breathe your love into me
until i have enough breath to speak my needs
instead of shutting down;
enough courage to stop what i’m doing
to help others who are down.
love me enough to release the tension in my shoulders and back
that made a home in my body as a shield for what i lack;
fill me, reveal me,
change me for the better
so that one day,
i can love you
in the same unselfish way.


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.


Me Chaser


like lost keys,
as soon as i stopped looking,
i breathed
and found me.
always thinking i was scattered,
i searched under pillow cushions and dark corners,
in the bottom of wine glasses and backs of refrigerators,
Googled my full name a thousand times
looking for a sign to point me
in the direction of my identity;
have even spent hours in front of the mirror naked,
examining every inch of my body;
have written freely without censoring,
spoken quickly without listening,
and through all that,
was still wondering who i am,
where i was at.
and somehow,
as simply as possible,
i decided to stop searching so hard for myself
and just be
and just like that,
i found me
and she is amazing.


Ambulatory Announcement


one day i’m gonna walk away from it all.
leave squeaky chair spinning in cubicle
and pictures on the wall
and expectations of success
and bill collector calls
and dreams that are too far to reach
and grab them as if all
that mattered
was honoring me.

i’m gonna walk away,
maybe even run,
not caring if i break the heels on my black leather pumps
or get runs in itchy stockings that were never met to fit me.
i won’t answer phones politely,
won’t smile without meaning,
will cry when i feel like it
and speak the truth as if
life still depended on it.

i’m not happy.

i feel like walking,
jogging, or maybe even driving
til i run out of gas
and can no longer recognize the surroundings
outside of the glass
that separates me from reality.
one day i’m gonna walk instead of sit,
act instead of talk,
speak instead of staying quiet,
scream instead of staying silent,
stop living so publicly and
respect myself enough to be private.

tiptoes are all they see now
but in my soul
i am walking,
even climbing,
drowning but surviving,
heart faint but still thriving
and growing despite being
the uprooted plant that i am.

i don’t want to wait for “one day”
so maybe i’ll just
put one foot in front of the other today
and see what happens.
movement is innate
and i’m spiraling back to my own nature
and the essence of my humanity
beyond infancy,
crawling, crying, standing,
losing balance and falling
but taking that final leap
and walking.


Prostitute


i remember the day when
one of my theatre teachers proclaimed
in a his usual loud, harsh yell of a voice:
“You’re all prostitutes!”
i took it as a joke,
cracked up about it
like the daily comics
but now it’s no longer funny
as i try to figure out
how to use my art
to make money.

am i selling my body?
maximizing my curves for that role of a vixen
or encouraging my unhealthy addictions
for “character research”
so that on that day
when i have to be vulgar and curse,
it’ll come out naturally like it’s been with me
since birth?

am i offering blow jobs
in the form of words
accompanied by sweet smiles and mediocre verse?
do i even know my self worth?
i shudder at the thought of becoming a whore,
at throwing my talent out
for whatever it gets me
because i’ve seen so-called artists do so
and believe me,
it’s disgusting.

one particular street poet,
seeing my afro and dark skin got me
by being conscious when he first met me,
spittin’ lines about the black man’s plight
and how America don’t really treat her citizens right
but after he caught my eye,
he would whisper to me poetry about sexual fantasies,
paint rhythmic pictures of what he wanted to do to my body
and how his tongue would make my hips dance
and ultimately tried to use his art
just to get in my pants.

negro please!
i refuse to be a trick to an artist’s self-seeking antics
and can’t muster giving myself up
on a dirty squeaky mattress
or walk the streets at night
for the purpose of filling my veins
with fortune and fame.
so i’ll hang on tight to my goods
and respect what i do
and die before i can be labeled
an art
prostitute.


New Year’s Resolutions


i resolve
to be a woman.
i will not swoon from being called “beautiful.”
all i need to do is look in the mirror and it shows.
tell me something i don’t know.

i resolve to be a woman,
to let my “yes” be yes
and my “no” be no
and my “no” be “hell no”
if the hearer doesn’t show
thst they hear me
because i’ll be
a woman,
not a girl who acts without thinking
and who speaks without listening.

i resolve to be a woman,
one with estrogen and ovaries,
but i resolve
to grow a pair of balls,
both heavy and hairy
so that i will not choose to sit still
just because the future is scary.

i resolve
to resolve.
i resolve
to be.
i resolve to be a woman,
to be myself,
to be honest,
to be genuine,
to laugh loudly,
to cry fully,
to live with my suffering
because it’s part of being the woman
i resolve to be.


Selling Myself


sometimes i have the urge to sell myself.
not on a dusty shelf
to be picked over during the holidays,
but to be on the market in such a way
that i take the time to explain the reasons why
someone should love me.

i am so far from perfection that it scares me,
but my soul makes up for it.
i can be difficult to deal with at times,
but my smile makes up for it.
occasionally, i’m beyond reckless,
but my heart makes up for it.
i ask a lot,
but my love makes up for it.
there are plenty of other women out there,
but i make up for it,
so much so
that i shouldn’t have to sell my treasure,
yell like an auctioneer for the highest bidder
because truth be told,
there is no dollar amount high enough
to satisfy the desire that lies inside of me.

inside i am rich, exotic,
exquisite, flagrant,
generous, Godly,
crazy,
and last but not least
BEAUTIFUL.
sometimes i let these qualities spill out of my body
and cover the shy nakedness i walk around with,
hoping that someone will see
that i’m no longer streaking
and uncontrollably grab hold of me.
but i’m learning
to hold on to myself,
to use my heart as a gate rather than an open door,
one that can only be unlocked with a special key
that is not for sale,
but destined to one day
find me
and fit perfectly.


The Peculiarity of Potential


i have the potential
to be Johnny Travolta in Saturday Night Fever
but i’m cool and stuck on Wednesday.

i have the potential
to be like Stella and get my groove ba–
but i lost the “ck”.

in the end,
potential
is nothing,
a mere statement of what should be
but is not.
potential is more illogical than faith
because it leans on the negative,
the “i wish” that sits
on the tips of our lips
but betrays us as badly
as the kiss of Judas.

but where is Jesus?
His magical garment has ripped
as i, the woman with issues
pulled so tight that facts got mixed
with potential,
trying to make Him fit who they say He is,
forgetting the reality that He does exist
inside of me,
only highlighting my individuality
rather than participating in the accusatory
proclamations that prick the insides of me,
pointing begrudgingly at only
what i have the
potential
to be.


Why I Do It


i do it because
i have lives inside of me
that would commit suicide if they couldn’t get out.
their stories scream out whenever i come out from backstage
and the stage is a second home
that i don’t get to visit all the time,
but every time i have a chance to come back,
the space is all mine.

i do it because
i refuse to live a normal life,
love the excitement and unpredictability that accompanies
the lack of sensibility that comes from choosing to be
an artist.
i do it because
it beats any buzz, high, or debaucherous night,
puts shame to the best sex i’ve ever had in my life,
and takes control of intangibles like…
time,
making it flow so smoothly that i think i just might
slide through reality and end up in a place i’ve never dreamed.

i love performing!
it’s become a part of me like my skin:
smooth and glowing in summers,
sometimes rough and crackly in the winter
but always an indicator
of what is inside of me
and inside of me
is an artist who has to speak.
inside of me
is a woman whose destiny
is to transform, refuse to conform,
and above all things,
perform.


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
yes.


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.


What Am I Afraid Of?


i’m so scared of pursuing my dreams.
i don’t know what it is that
i’m really afraid of.
it’s not failure
because i know what that feels like
and i have learned enough strength and felt enough strain
to stiffen my back and jaw
and start over again.
is it success?
not quite sure.
i rather enjoy the opening of new doors
and my brain craves the territories i could possibly explore.
i think what it boils down to is that
i am afraid of me.
i am not only unaware of my own potential,
but my own depths.
i usually only express the surface level of each facet,
afraid to drill in deep.
i am a frozen body of water–
when my ice is broken,
my disturbingly cold interior is endless
and i’m scared it’ll kill me.
not literally, but figuratively
to state it simply
i am afraid
of me.


Into Me


he’s just not that into me
or maybe
i’m just not that into me.
i invest in the exterior,
keep up images and expectations,
but when it comes to treating my inside,
i’m deaf, dumb, and blind.
i am spiritually numb,
which back in the day would have bothered me
but recently more often than not
i shrug it off–i’m way too busy.
i stand on my feet and grind all day
and the thought of dropping to my knees
to close my eyes and pray
doesn’t hold much priority.
this kind of disturbs me.

my sister said to me that
i’m a precious gem
and i believed her
until i became a rhinestone
just to get next to him
and he pawned me in
for another stone
who knew her own value.

i want to be into me,
have the ability to live and speak freely,
not censoring myself and my identity
to suit those around me.
my life depends on it,
my mind depends on it,
my heart beats pulses of hope
that resonate and reverberate.
i gotta truly love me fully
before it’s too late.


A Different Kind of Lovemaking


i’m so aloof about this love thing.
something has shut off in me–
i only care about sex in this regard:
as a release
and honestly,
i can provide that for myself.
i’m stressed, i play, i release
and then i move on
or go to sleep.
it’s that simple these days.
and if i need to connect,
i phone a friend or watch a good movie,
write a few poems and enjoy being home.
i go outside and breath in nature
and enjoy the softest, gentlest, most loving touch there is.
the air was always there,
but i never noticed.
the flowers and trees were always alive
but went unappreciated.
now i make love to mother earth
as if it were a sin
and it’s more beautiful than whatever it was
that i was doing with men.
and she doesn’t just take,
she gives me gifts back
like beautiful birds and rain
and sunshine and breeze on my back.
i searched for the joy that comes from all of these things
through habits and vices and actions that caused pain,
but after that long journey,
my advise for everybody
is to value the world around you.
hold it close within your reach
and extend yourself to receive it all.
love all
and above all,
love yourself.


If You Could See


she said she wished she could be me for a day
and i thought, “honey…
if you could see what was really in my heart,
it would break yours.”

i am not who they think i am.

things are not always what they seem
and though i’m not a thing, but a mere human being,
this cliche somehow applies to me.
i grip me so tight
that my fingers don’t feel right no more.
they are too numb to even fight for more.
the little bones have been cracked
from holding out my heart on my hands
and offering it to the finest bidder,
auctioning off my soul and body
so that my tiny self-concept could grow bigger.

after malnourishment and gluttony all intertwined,
i determined for me that i will no longer
give away my mind.
i used to be kind
but now i offer very little assistance to those in need
because i am afraid that consumed by greed,
they’ll grab at my possessions
with all their strength
and make me feel misused again.
so now i got me
in the pockets of my tight jeans.
i hug my own curves and trust my own touch.
foreign fingers and feelings at this time
are just too much.

so if you still feel inclined to take a journey through my mind,
enter the horrors and smiles left behind,
climb the caves of  laughter caught in my throat,
cover your ears when you hear my agony note.
and on your last day,
rip through my flesh and find
those bones in my pelvis that used to relax and unwind.
and as you depart,
watch your step
so that next time, you won’t regret
wishing to live in my skin
and hopefully i won’t either
and i’ll come back again.


I am in Love


i think i have found my soul-mate.
i’ve heard that there’s someone for everybody
and after dealing with some somebody’s
that weren’t for me,
i think i’ve found the one
who sincerely adores me.
our relationship is so fresh
and i’m kinda scared about revealing it so early
but some love is so strong
that you can’t keep it a secret,
some love makes you feel so high
that it can’t stay on the down-low
so here i go:

i’ll start off by saying
that i never thought i’d be
in a same-sex relationship,
always imagined that the only one
who could complete me
would be a husband.
but i started having days when i smile for no reason
and now the tears that i cry come from inspiration.
this woman has shown me my potential
by giving her own struggle as an example.

she has faced so many dark days
but still lights up lives.
she has been attacked both physically and mentally
but still manages to survive
with her head held high.
her smile is sweeter than birthday cake
and when she laughs, i get all tingly inside
like waking up on Christmas morning.

i get scared and start mourning
the possible end of this friendship
because the last time i was this open,
i got disappointed.
but something tells me that this one is different,
that this one won’t leave me.
in all honesty,
i am in love with this woman
who just so happens to be
me.

it’s funny
how it took hurt from others
for me to look in the mirror
to count my wounds
with water welling up in my eyes
and as the tears fell,
my vision got clearer and i saw
myself.
the beauty, the love
that i searched for long and wide
lives inside.
i am in love
with me.


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.