Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “tears

God’s Softer Side


he kisses me when my nose is snotty,

and doesn’t mind if his face gets wet.

when he’s thirsty, he drinks my tears,

exchanges sugar for salt.

he grabs my love handles

and tickles my stomach,

reminds me that i am not fat,

but blessed.


From the Day We Met (Haikus)


from the day we met,

God has grown closer to me

indefinitely.

 

from the day we met,

past pain doesn’t feel so bad;

smiles have replaced tears.

 

from the day we met,

“more than i ever prayed for”

is how i see life.

 

from the day we met,

i lose myself in laughter

and love feels so good.

 

from the day we met,

each time i look in your eyes,

my heart skips a beat.

 

from the day we met,

my life hasn’t been the same.

i’ll never look back!


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.


Sincerity


on my birthday,

i got a long voicemail from a friend.

midnight approached as i lay in my bed listening.

in the message, one thing she said was:

“I’m happy you’re alive…”

to my surprise came unexpected tears.

maybe it was how her voice cracked when she said it,

showing her sincerity

or just that

when someone who knows exactly how

close

you’ve been to death

acknowledges just how

far

you’ve come

simply by still being here,

life seems even more

extraordinary.


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.


Broken Camera


broken camera,
you upset me more than you deserved to,
had me thinking that maybe you represent
everyone else who
didn’t earn my tears
but still got them;
people i put faith in
whose batteries would eventually die
and whose lenses would get stuck in the past,
never to open again;
love i thought was everlasting,
laughter i assumed would never end,
close strangers i called “best friends”
and every other instance
of disappointment.

they are like you,
enjoyable until after the warranty runs out
and on one random day, they just conk out
and there’s nothing left i could do
but get upset and move on,
then replace them,
forget what i learned,
only to get hurt again.

maybe i should re-evaluate
who and what
i put my trust in.


Old Me


i now sometimes wonder where
the old me went.
did she die a miserable death
to match her painful existence?
or does she live in my chest,
keeping my heart beating
through reminders of what she used to be?
or maybe she still lives in me,
a skinny, emaciated girl
underneath the skin of a woman
who smiles even when she’s sleeping now.

her tears keep me hydrated
and her scars only make me more beautiful.
her pain i wear like a necklace of rememberance,
perfect pearls all unique. wherever she went,
i’m happy she’s not as present
when i look in the mirror,
glad that when i dance now,
she’s not stepping on my feet.

she kisses my feet now,
washes them with tears
and absorbs the fluid in her afro hair.
she serves me
and is near,
perhaps closer than i think she is.

i think she is me–
only happy.


If This Is


beauty meets tears
and invites them to a dance with steps
only memorized by the magnificent.
if this is history,
then i wonder what tomorrow will feel like.
if this is reality,
then how peaceful will my dreams be
when i close my eyes tonight?
if this is joy,
then i cannot wait to experience love.
the thought of it gives me goosebumps and fear
because my heart is already swollen
with pride.
it beats louder than ever.
i am alive again.
i didn’t even know i was sleepwalking
until now i have experienced
real life–
the emotion, the struggle, the achievements
and all that could happen
by just believing.
overwhelmed i am
so blessed i am
here i am
free,
breathing, feeling,
being, existing,
growing, changing,
praising.

i thought God was absent
so i could only imagine
how great would His presence would feel like.


Why Cry?


when i
consider the amount of potential
that lives in my insides
and then wake up and see
what is really outside,
tears well up in my eyes
and i cry.

when i
think about all of the uncured disease
and all the money that’s made in pharmacies
and the people who live off of painkillers
instead of cures,
tears well up in my eyes
and i cry.

when i
think about how the boys in blue
are supposed to protect me and you
but when i needed them,
they treated me like i was the criminal
and my assailant walks the streets
and breathes the same air as me,
tears well up in my eyes
and i cry.

there is so much to cry about
and some days,
i have to search for laughter.
i have to remind myself
of other chapters in my life,
the dog-eared pages of past stages
when life was sweet
and love was constant
and happiness was not a long-lost friend
but something that lived in my pocket
that has now slipped away as easily as lint
in a pair of pants
that are too tight for me now.

some days i can’t even cry
like i have some strange infirmity
from all the fucked up things i have seen,
like my eyes no longer produce tears
so when fear mounts, i shout instead
with a poetic voice loud enough to wake the dead.
the dead live in my head.
their corpses rot in their tiny grave plots
and their headstones read:
INSECURITY,
JEALOUSY,
HEARTBREAK,
DATE RAPE,
MISTAKES,
and FEAR.
the soil is soft and pretty flowers live here
and sometimes their scents break through with pollen
that causes tears
and i cry
and cry.
and cry
until there is no more inside
and until i feel alive
and the frustration subsides
and then i can finally breathe
and finally see
that crying was a necessity
to move past all that is upsetting me
and live on.


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.


I Miss Heartbreak


i have known heartbreak.
i have held her hands and
even kissed her salty tears
like we were lovers and best friends.
i do not see her often.
i lost her phone number and replaced memories of her
with blockages
that irreversibly alter the traffic pattern to my heart.
i have boobie-trapped the path to reaching me
so much so that no one dares
set their feet on the journey
and if they do, it remains incomplete.

for some odd reason,
i miss heartbreak.
i miss real tears of genuine nature
without feeling so mature
that i am rarely moved by anything or anyone
or any one of the things that used to affect me.
i miss heartbreak:
the jagged zig-zags in the middle of my overworked organ
were so much more interesting
than the stitches that have replaced them.
these stitches don’t bend or even allow love through their holes.
they have even stretched to hang a sign
that always reads “closed”.

oh, this life of mine
where i miss pain and am scared of joy,
where i miss crying and the future seems more like a ploy
to drag me where i don’t want to go
and teach me hard lessons that i already know
and spiral me into a world where i’m in control
and afraid of four-letter words
that break my five-letter heart.


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.


Diary of an Insomniac


i don’t sleep anymore
and i’m scared i’m gonna crack.
my body is slowly decomposing;
my mind is dry, thirsty soil
and my pillow is fertilizer but the smell
keeps me away.

..gotta stay busy…
gotta gotta gotta gotta
get goals accomplished.
who cares if i have been awake so long
that i can no longer focus?
keep working
even though i can no longer see straight.

every time i check the time,
i see that it’s too late
but i can’t seem to get my feet to touch the floor
to walk to bed.
plans rule the insides of my head
and i suffer from unfinished ones.
they are barrels to guns that rub my temples
and trace the outsides of my mouth.
i’m so tired that tears won’t even come out.
they stay in to assist in the caging in
of the insomnia that has overtaken me.
this altered state is pressure-filled
and i don’t know where it’s taking me.
all i know is that i feel verrry verrry sleeeeepy

and it’s already morning.


I Am A Troubled Woman


i am a troubled woman.
tears flow from things that should make me smile
and i’m enamored with that which causes me pain.
i have a sadomasochistic brain
and my body feeds off of the punishment
inflicted by mistakes.
the heartache reminds me that i am alive
and though i double over at times because of it,
my mind can’t stop doing this.
i run away from love
and chase after infatuation cakes covered with lust frosting
and like it off my fingers late at night like a guilty pleasure
and watch as the number of inches around my loins measure
to be something greater than i can count.
i recount all the calories and grams of fat consumed
by situations i should have left sooner,
“NO”s i should have said with certainty
and people who i have allowed to hurt me,
those who entered my life like
there was a green light on my forehead
and i didn’t have the sense to put up a yellow
so at least they would slow
on the narrow, winding lanes of my heart’s road.
i wish it was not so–
glutton for dessert and hurt;
if pain was a designer,
i’d own the t-shirt
and walk down runways called my day,
strutting my stuff for all to see.
become the premiere spokesmodel who doesn’t need
make-up and glamor to illustrate me–
completely confused, conceived baby
pushing through the birth canal of life
like a newborn who chooses to arrive feet-first.
my life hurts
but there aren’t band-aids large enough,
no peroxide bottle big enough,
no doctor smart enough,
no evidence strong enough,
no love deep enough,
no tears salty enough,
no laughs long enough
to sustain the pain.
so i remain
a troubled woman.


The Life of a Foreigner


i look at what is beautiful
(supposedly)
and honestly find it
creepy.
is there something wrong with me?
perhaps i see from different eyes,
pick up in my pupils
objects unseen by the blind
yet i am visually impaired
with images people claim to be here.
i hear, “this is art”
and think, “how stupid.”
they say, “this is ridiculous”
and i respond, “how moving.”
i am brought to tears by what others insist
to be insignificant;
my heart beats faster from words
that fly through ears and leave some indifferent.
perhaps from now on
i should introduce myself as who i really am–
an alien,
ask those who i encounter
to welcome me with open arms
to their alternate universe
as we compare our differences:
what makes us hurt,
what causes smiles,
what is a waste of time,
what is worthwile.
i will shake hands with every foreigner
until i find one who has the perfect fit
and whose fingerprints match my own
and i discover that i am not in fact
alone.


It Was Just Sleeping


tonight i wept.
suppressed sighs escaped my mouth
and memories i thought were buried
burst out.
they streamed down my face
and shook me awake to the fact that
the misery is not gone.

it was just sleeping.

it awoke
when it heard the alarm of the familiar.
how strange it is
that memories become entangled with the brain,
creating knots in the heart
and quicksand for fresh starts
and new beginnings.

i want the ending.


Even Jesus Wept


people who don’t cry make me uncomfortable.
i view them as narcissists or at best, con artists
who try to lure other people into believing
that they possess superhuman strength,
powers that allow them to contain
unbearable amounts of pain
without ever exploding.
what fools they are.
they are not aware that the shedding of tears
is a gift.
even Jesus wept
before raising Lazarus from the dead.
the shedding of tears is a blessing.
the shedding of tears precedes a blessing,
connecting the pain that is felt
to God himself
and when these two powerful forces come together,
miracles happen.

what if we looked at every tear as a miracle?
maybe we wouldn’t wipe them away so hastily
but let them rest on our skin to warm our insides
one pore at a time.
how beautiful would pain be then?
perhaps too magnificent to even look at it
for too long,
so we would have to peer through holes in cups
like we learned to do at eclipses
because the power of the catalyst to tears
is too much to fathom,
too profound to “ooh” and “ahh” at
so the wise ones accept as fact
that times of tears will come.

but those who refuse to cry
miss out on the magic that they possess inside.
the holding in of tears precedes the curse
of never being able to witness and experience
the miracle of connection,
the beauty of suffering,
and the pleasure of release.
even Jesus wept
before raising Lazarus from the dead.
the shedding of tears is a blessing.


I Command You


i command you at this exact moment to
cry.
don’t think about it–
just do it…
let the floodgates open
and allow the tears to rush through your eyes
and onto your face
and into the wails of your voice.
don’t think of what to lament for–
just cry until your mind explores
all of the reasons you should shed
tears.

cry for every person who should still be here.
cry because you have full use of your eyes,
cry for every time communication wasn’t clear,
cry for every store that didn’t have your size.
cry
for every child born without a mother or father,
cry for every homeless person you’ve walked past with dollars
in your pocket, and the fact that you didn’t bother
to help.
cry for yourself.
cry for the pursuit of love,
cry for a connection to God above,
cry as if the only way to make it to heaven
was to pour out a blessing
of your own tears.
cry because you are still here.
cry until reality is clear and all that is false
dries
up.

cry for every word you should have said but didn’t.
cry for every hug you should have given,
for every “i love you” that you’ve hidden
in your heart.
cry as if this is the start
of your life and you have just entered this world
naked as the day you were born
and you have just been torn
from the safety of an umbilical cord.
cry as if this is the day you are dying
and you still haven’t figured out what you lived for.

cry.

release all that you have pent up
that has kept you stuck.
it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done it since your were 5,
today i order you to cry.
cry like your dog just died.
cry like your best friend lied
to your face.
cry as if a plane crashed.
cry as if the love of your life just said goodbye
too fast.
cry as if this is the last
possible time in this universe
for you to explode with an expression of your hurt.

and after you’ve poured out so much that
the water doesn’t come any more,
wipe your eyes and your snot,
inhale and exhale and realize
that it’s not the end of the world
just because you took a few moments
to acknowledge what is inside.
realize
that you can’t walk around
with all that frustration in your mind
and not expect it to influence your life.
and after you feel the relaxation from the sensation
of purging all that will be, is, and is gone
and only after you have done
all that you can to fully embrace this moment,

i command you
to move on.


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.


Live in a Poem


i wish i could live in a poem.
wouldn’t it be cool for life to flow to a smooth rhythm
where word play could translate into laughter and
word choice would dictate just the level of happy that
you could potentially reach every single moment of every single day?
each time you alliterate you would illuminate
a fresh new idea.
every letter used in each stanza could help you dominate
and with each syllable, synonym, antonym or homonym,
you could levitate.

you could simile smile
as people around you inquire “Metaphor?”
and you can personify
that after laboriously looming in a long line for the loo for lingering moments that seemed like eternity,
you purposely onomatopéia’d your pants in front of everybody
and it feels
AWESOME!

nouns would represent loved ones and
adjectives would equal fun and
for every punctuation mark used, you would get a kiss.
rhymes would mean impromptu trips
to the land of free and
double entrendres would demand that you get two scoops of ice cream.
verbs would reify daydreams
and adverbs would be your favorite movies
looping in conjunction junction
with your favorite songs on a never-ending playlist with no repeats.

whatever tones set in the poem would indicate your moods,
but not to worry–
this life creates beauty even out of blue.
and here, tears are valued and glorified,
which basically means that you can rejoice and shout “Hallelujah!”
every single time you cry.
life will become oxymorons and parodoxes busting out of boxes
and reaching truth as each moment passes
the next.

life as poetry in motion
would be like a vacation
where you get to see exotic animals, mountains, beach and the ocean,
where you could hopscotch from one continent to the next,
simultaneously experiencing the cultures of Nigeria, Greece, and Tibet
and the coolest thing of all is that
you don’t have to spend any money or even go anywhere,
you just have to open up your mind, eyes, and ears,
ride the wavelengths of your imagination and fantasies
and from there
you’ll see
that life really is a poem
if you allow it to be.


To Paint Humanity


*Written July 6, 2008*

i had a dream that God told me to paint humanity–
take my life and use it as an instrument
to capture all the colors of his children,
so i start this mission with me:
i explore the deepest blacks of my people,
the darkness of drum beats and culture coursing through my veins,
the brown of skin that is smooth and strong,
the purple of pride from my ancestors that in me remains,
the blue of depression, lost plans, loneliness, and failure,
the green of envy, peace, hunger for money, and nature,
the yellow of the consistent sun, joy, and energy,
the orange of the warmth that only comes from family,
the red of blood, passion, and rage,
the white of the oppressors who tried to kill my race.
my life is a paintbrush
searching the in-between hues of personalities,
the value of words,
the pigment of emotions,
dipping into the water of my tears
until everything becomes one color and runs together…
truth, lies, joy, sadness, laughter, confusion
all co-mingle in the bucket of my body
mixing with one another so that at times, i forget what i’m painting.
i realize that all of my colors are interconnected,
deriving from the same three primaries
while i’m a painter staring at a blank canvas
trying my hardest to determine
the formula of documenting and sharing,
of composing and communicating just what it is that makes
life.