Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “self

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.

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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.