Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “stranger

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.

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I Have a Present


where do i put all of this anger?
sometimes i hide it away in my heart
because it seems like the safest place,
but late at night,
it leaks out and keeps me awake.
so where can i put it?
maybe i can wrap it in metallic paper
and hand it off like a surprise gift to a stranger
and just as they’re saying “Thank you!”
i’ll say “See you later!”
and never have to see my soul’s bitterness
again.
but even then,
i think karma would catch up to me.
like right now, i’m running
but when i get tired feet,
i’ll have to rest.
i love the outdoors so i’ll sit on a park bench
enjoying the sun,
look up to observe a seemingly friendly someone
walking toward me bearing
an attractive gift wrapped with a ribbon
that they claim is supposed to be
mine.
and innocently,
i’ll open it
and be shocked to see
one more time
that anger lives
and always finds
a way to come back
to my tumultuous life.


Fake Lovers


we are fake lovers,
spinning on a broken record
that’s our jam
that causes us to dance
when we jump out of our crazy,
lonely lives to listen
to each other breathe into phone receivers
and wish for more.

we had more, baby.
we were Bonnie and Clyde
speeding down a highway
where reality chased
and there was no damn way
we were stepping on the brakes.
we were the Red Sea before
Moses lifted his staff to separate,
but now we live on two different sides–
there is dry land in between the wetness
that once lived in laughter that birthed tears
and bodies that danced in sheets without any cares
in the world but which one of us
will cum first.
“us” had come to an end
with no satisfaction
and now i wish i could wrap back then
in saran wrap or a silk napkin
and save the memories for when i am hungry.
i would eat them crumb by crumb for every night
i have to sleep alone with no one
beside me
or watch romantic movies
and end up sentimental and crying
or ponder the reasons
why love always seems to be dying
and dine on the times
when you and me were “we” thriving.

our love was alive like
Lazarus after Jesus wept
and we took steps
on a spiraling staircase that never seemed to end
until we tried to climb to future heights
and fell down to hell.
now shit is fire and i think you’re a liar
but even though you burned me
you’re still the best i’ve seen
with my near-sighted eyes
and i wish i could feel once more what we had.
and i wish we didn’t move so fast
from strangers to lovers to soul mates
to exes to strangers
to this phase
of sporadic late night phone calls
and empty promises
and reminiscing of good night kissing
instead of hanging up with uncertainty
of when we’ll speak again.

damn.
i miss my friend.


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.


What Went Wrong?


*Written June 18, 2008*

a crazy black man
in the midst of mumbling madness
and missing teeth
called me a BITCH!
i paused
cuz at that moment time stopped
my heart dropped
my jaw popped back
about to reply…
but i shut it
chuckling at what the man uttered
not in a private disagreement
or altercation
but directly to a stranger
entering the train station

i could have
let out a cry
i could have in the spirit of U.N.I.T.Y. replied
“WHO YOU CALLIN A…”
but instead i’m sitting here questioning why…
what went wrong
in between this man’s departure from his mother’s hips
to this rainy evening in tattered clothes and dirty lips,
nonsensical phrases, broken dreams,
daymares and lack of sleep,
no pillow to rest on, just a trash heap,
to the point where death is a fantasy
and life is a disease?
what went wrong
that a black man the age of my father
tries to break down a girl the age of his daughter
and commit generational slaughter?

but little did he know
that a wise woman taught her
to redefine what once brought her
to anger.
now that i look back,
i wish i could have
thanked him,
expressed gratitude for his expression
for in his effort to insult, he reminded me that
B-I-T-C-H is no longer my oppression
cuz this blossoming black beauty
throughly treasures
Being
In
Total
Control of
Herself.