Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “spoken word

My Five Stages of Grief in 2015 © Farah Lawal Harris


in psychology,

the Kübler-Ross model describes the five stages of grief

as a series of emotional stages one experiences

when faced with their own impending death

or the death of someone else.

the five stages are:

denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

here are mine:

 

1.

my mom and dad are immigrants

who came to the U.S. on their own volition,

got student visas to go to college

because it was a smart life decision.

i was born in this country, but Nigeria is in my veins.

now, more than ever, i cling to my ancestors’ names:

my great great grandfather, Herbert Macaulay’s face

is on Nigerian currency;

his grandfather, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s life

has been covered in documentaries.

and then there’s me–

akata-loving girl with an African-American studies degree,

stranger to my parents’ homeland

and i am hated in this country.

 

2.

i am hated in this country.

not too long ago, some whites

used to lynch niggas at night,

leave mutilated statues of souls that used to be

full vessels of hope

emptied

for the hot sun and maggots to eat

until their families cut them down from trees,

trying to revive them

with saltwater tears.

but tears have never been rain.

today, some whites

kill niggas in daylight,

leave mutilated statues of souls that used to be

full vessels of hope

emptied

until the community calls out overzealous police,

trying to revive them

with justice.

but justice has never been rain,

so we get devoured

every 28 hours.

 

3.

every 28 hours,

i or someone i love could die,

but fear overtakes you

when i pass you at night?

i wish you knew how afraid i was of you–

we are marionettes whose strings are pulled

by unpredictable Geppetos

who with one false accusation,

one New Year’s Eve at Fruitvale Station,

one wallet mistaken for a gun,

one day at the playground trying to have fun,

one bachelor party before my wedding day,

one hoodie to protect my head from the rain,

one jaywalk in the middle of the street,

one individual cigarette sold cuz Newports ain’t cheap,

one nap on the couch as the SWAT Team busts in,

one hip-hop song played loud as i hang with my friends,

one knock on the wrong door for help,

one afternoon at Walmart holding merchandise they sell,

could turn my family’s life

into a living hell.

Gepetto, when you wore a white hood instead of blue,

i recognized you.

Gepetto, i wouldn’t be so scared

if you saw me too.

Gepetto, why don’t i matter to you?

 

4.

why don’t i matter to you?

black lives matter

when we rob, rap and rape.

the only time you see me is when

i make you money or take food off your plate.

i can’t breathe–

i’m in an illegal chokehold.

i can’t breathe–

blackness is incongruous with hope.

i can’t breathe

cuz he was handcuffed when you shot him in the back.

i can’t breathe

cuz our justice system is out of whack.

i can’t breathe

because so many no longer do,

i can’t breathe

because no Declaration holds me in its truths.

wake me when i matter to you.

 

5.

but then again,

who cares if I matter to you?

i’m a proud black woman and i won’t go away,

Nigeria and America simultaneously

run through my veins,

i am black–

i matter.

they were black–

they mattered,

we are matter,

protons, electrons and neutrons

by the name of Trayvon,

Amadou, Renisha, Sean;

Oscar, Jordan, Michael, John;

Tamir, Ezell, Kajeime, Yvette;

Eric, Aiyana, the list ain’t done yet…

their names live on because

we are immortal,

we are black;

we are priceless,

we are black;

we are resilient,

we are black;

we are beautiful,

we are black.

we are black.

we are black.

we are black.

and we matter!


Never-Ending Poem


if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood–
of a little girl whose dark-skinned father
looked at his dark-skinned seed and told her
that there’s a secret to erasing their skin:
“Here, wear this cream and the blackness will go away.
Boys will like you more and jobs will open doors
and people will let you in with smiles.”
i would speak of that little girl-child,
how she listened to her father
and observed her light-skinned, beautiful mother
and rubbed whiteness on her skin,
how lightness did not come,
but instead painful bumps and itchy rash
and tears in the mirror and her dad who said,
“Maybe that one was too strong. I will get you a gentler one.”
the girl who shook her head “No”
and accepted her darker fate…
kind of.

i would speak of that girl
who grew up with big titty-denial,
of the time her best friend pulled her to the side,
looked her in the eye
and told her “Your bra is too small.”
the girl who prayed and prayed for pubic hairs to grow,
who searched her mom’s medicinal herb books
for a recipe to start menses.
“Maybe if I drink a tea or take a vitamin,
blood will come and I’ll be a woman.”
blood came in its time
and so did boys
who ignored her face and got lost in her breasts.
as years went on,
they got lost in her booty, her hips.
more years went on
and they got lost in her smile, her eyes, her skin.
more years went on
and they got lost in her hair.
more years went on and they got lost in her “no”
that was too quiet.

i would speak of her insecurities
that helped men mold her like clay
into a woman who appeared strong with a mean face,
but crumbled like wet sand castles upon touch;
a woman who craved touch so much
that it hurt her
so she exchanged touch for God,
then back for touch,
then back for God,
then back for touch,
then traded it back for God,
and then back for touch,
and then back for more touch,
and then back for touch,
and then who was God?
there was only touch.
and then touch got too much
and then what was God?
and then touch fucked her up
and then where was God?
i mean “Who is God?”
i mean “What is God?”
i mean…”There is God!”
“Here is God!”
“Wait…where is God?”
i would speak of her questions
that rolled on and on,
her definitions that changed,
and how she got different,
but stayed the same.

if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood,
of my own stories,
those of my sisters
and all the things we’ve seen,
felt, loved, cried over, laughed about,
screamed about,
of moments where death wasn’t near enough,
and then those times where love filled us up
but i’m afraid
time just isn’t enough,
our stories are too much,
my voice would dry up.


Video of Me Performing “Exotic Beauty”


Hi everyone!  Here is another video of me performing.  This is my poem, “Exotic Beauty” (click here to read the poem) at an event in Washington, D.C. I did last week called “Women, Words, and Power!” (done in association with The Essential Theatre).  I was one of nine female spoken word artists who performed.

I’ll warn you that the video quality isn’t great, but hey… 🙂 Enjoy!


Video of Me Performing “My Wedding Day”


Hi everyone!  Here is a video of me performing my poem, “My Wedding Day” (click here to read the poem) at an event in Washington, D.C. I did last week called “Women, Words, and Power!” (done in association with The Essential Theatre).  I was one of nine female spoken word artists who performed.

I’ll warn you that the video quality isn’t great, but hey… 🙂 Enjoy!