Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “trust

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.


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.


The Naked Truth


naked as the day i was born,
i am alone.
there is no one to touch and play
and most times when i’m clothed i say
that this is ok.
but as i lay in my cotton sheets in the buff,
i know that my solitary existence is not enough.
i feel like doing a dance,
not one i can do all by myself.
with this choreography,
i’ll need a little help.
when i put my feet down here
and my knees out there,
you groove your movement
to make sure the dance floor is clear.
then we will find the tempo and key
of our soundtrack.
i believe it begins
in the falling and rising
of the small of my back,
the beat can be found in the rocking of my hips
and the melody lives in the curve of my lips.
our ballroom dancing is like none other
because it a dance that occurs in no other place
than my idle imagination.
others do this dance,
but not me.
i move alone and trust nobody
to two step with me.
my nudity is no longer a performance
but a mode of relaxation,
devoid of the sensation
of movement penetration.
i have dancing shoes in my closet but
won’t put them on.
hopefully by the time i do,
they’ll be playing my song.


Sexual Freedom


for reasons unanticipated and uninvited,
sexual freedom has become
an oxymoron to me.
perhaps because i am locked in a cage
of celibacy.
or more truthfully,
because the freeing of this pleasure
ended with a nightmare turned memory.
it’s nearly impossible to enjoy events
that are now associated with pain.
one who loses a loved one on a holiday
always feels bittersweet feelings–
birthdays and thanksgiving are not the same.
and that’s how i feel.
passion runs through me
but the thoughts of actually releasing it
die before conception.
my body is no longer aroused
and sour memories are housed
in the roof of my mouth
and the flesh of my heart.
i understand how i arrived at this ending
and it pains me to think of my start:
daring to be curious,
thriving off of taking chances,
naive without worries
and most of all,
trusting.
the possibility of trust
now cuts my brain.
my warning alarms go off
and my eyes sprinkle rain.
i watch others who claim to be free
and shake my head in sadness
and reminisce on when
they used to be
me.


Hapless Heart


i feel like i set myself up
like i get my hopes up
for a specific person only to be let
down
by standards they didn’t even know
existed.
my heart is tattooed on my wrists
so that with every exchange,
a new person gets a glance and
no matter how often i try to
wear long sleeves
to hide the tops of my hands,
the ink is inevitably seen.

i’m not sayin i wanna walk around
without a heart or
be a cold woman
but i feel like i don’t know how to
manage this organ i’ve been given.
it dances to its own rhythm,
shuffling and sliding
about 70 steps a minute,
grooving faster than seconds
so it’s no surprise
that no matter how hard i try
to keep up, i fall behind.
this muscle that is the only the size
of two fists
is swifter than all of my logic
and limbs combined.

it provides me with lies
and with each new beat it
neglects to teach
me how to beat
my stupidity.
it pumps blood to my arteries
but is still the part of me
that i resent.
i wish i could hold my heart in contempt
for refusing to be honest with my mind,
setting me up with false expectations and trust
and making me crazy whenever i sense
the slightest hint of love.

but for whatever reason,
i still love this heart i have
because when what is in front of me
fails me
it speaks to me and tells me
that it is built with the capacity
to expand to other beings
so despite the hurt of my feelings,
my heart is the only route
to get to the true feelings
of love.


I Can Teach People


*Written July 1, 2008*

i’m so scared to open up my mouth and speak
i guess for fear of the responsibility that comes with using my words.
words are so strong and so powerful
and i’m afraid of misusing them, of abusing them
of them being weapons of mass destruction in an effort to just provide instruction
or at least inclusion into the mass of thoughts in my head that run
cuz for real, who am i to be teaching anyone?
my areas of expertise are sheisty at the least:
i can show someone how to fall, get up, and fall again,
i can show others how to lose touch with close friends,
i can teach others to put themselves in dangerous situations
and have to learn things the hard way,
i can teach people how to live with pain,
i can teach people how to run from dreams,
i can teach people to put up fronts to convince others
that they are really as happy as they seem,
i can teach people to be numb,
i can teach people to play dumb,
i can teach people to love,
i can teach people to trust,
i can teach people to express,
i can teach people to digest,
i can teach people to accept tests,
i can teach people that they really are blessed,
after examining this list, maybe i am kind of equipped.
i just want my tongue to be an impetus for growth and not an invitation to diversion.
i want my tongue to be medicine for brokenness and ointment for hurting.
i want my tongue to be an extension of God, evidence of His miracles and truth.
it’s done so much damage in the past–
broken hearts, cut people it claimed to care about
but now i want my tongue to represent a voice that represents my choice
to love, to build, to change, to teach
and to speak.