A Poem for Yourself (Rough Draft)

Tell yourself. Tell yourself. Tell yourself
That something you’ve been needing to hear for so long
Let it be an additional payday
For your self esteem
Let it be a sweet kiss on your right cheek
In the concave of your dimple

Tell yourself. Tell yourself
That giving up is an option,
But not for someone as unicorn as you
So spread those effervescent wings
Let their sparkle brush bold colors across the sky
And the people will shout aurora
As you pass by
On hooves of silver clouds
Tell yourself that you are a marvel
That what your flesh cannot mend
Your spirit must renew
For you are a marvel
And no storm can triumph over your will
For you silence thunder with your smile
And tickle lightning with your lashes
Your godly locs congressing in the wind

Tell yourself that you are God’s
That you belong to the love that begat your sense of self
Gather yourself, gather yourself
And stand on that makeshift stage within
Face your phobia of public speech
Speak your truth across that mic
And stir the selves you’ve gathered
Like a magnificent pot of your great aunt’s stew
And tell yourself to be okay
With not being okay sometimes
Because at all times, life demands integrity

To thine own self be true
To thine own self be true

And then there’s no mirror that can haunt you
And then there’s no slander that can slay your legacy
And there there’s no reason to doubt
That you are no prisoner
Though your wrists may be rubbed raw
That you are no martyr
Though you have died one hundred gruesome deaths
That you are no villain
Though you wear a patriotic badge of civil disobedience

Tell yourself
Tell yourself
That freedom is not a gift to be given
But a revelation that freedom is and always has been yours
And at any time
As a free agent
You can choose revolution
And rewrite the constitution of your indendence

Tell yourself, tell yourself
That you are a new testament of faith
That douses burning crosses
With the tears of antisemitic arsonists
For every devil weeps
When its hate is stilled
By the hopes you tell yourself
For every devil burns unholy and red
When its blasphemy does not lower your head
To glare it in the eyes as a colleague of hate
Tell yourself its not too late
Tell yourself its not too late
To breathe

~Rahk

#black-art-matters, #black-lives-matter, #hard-conversations, #hope, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry

Currently (Excerpt from “Hard Conversation: Love Poems”)

I am that I am,
But so are they.
Still they hate.
But are they the devil?
They do turn red
With so much new blood
Staining their hands
Even as they vote.
They are that they are.
But so am I.
Am I forgiveness
At the same time that they
Are knee crushing necks?
Am I forgiveness
At the same time that they
Are propelling arsenal at unarmed citizens?
Are they forgiven
At the same time that they
Are standing back and standing by
While more of us live maimed, or die?

~Rahk.

#activism, #all-lives-matter, #america, #anti-racism, #black-art-matters, #equality, #human-rights, #poem, #poetry, #police-brutality, #sars

Play

u paused
frozen, but still whirring
and complaining
like a DVD

u are no machine
yet u let life control u
remotely

stop


Rahk.

#black-art-matters, #black-stories, #hard-conversations, #love, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry

thus far (Excerpt from Hard Conversations: Love Poems)

you’ve spent your life
giving in

life runs out
change does not

empty your pockets


Rahk

Hard Conversations in American Homes

1. It’s ashamed these businesses just reopened
And now they have to pay for damages

Yeah, Philip said his shop looks like a skull, all shadows and caverns.

And daddy always told us that floor-to-ceiling windows catch the eye…

I told Philip he should have chosen that other location…

2. Lord, have mercy! Why is this still happening?

I don’t know, bae, but it’s got to stop, it’s got to stop.

But how can it when this country is rich with graves,
smoothie shops as tomb stones?

3. I did not march with a million men for this.

I did not withstand hosed tsunamis for this.

I do not carry the teeth marks of Officer K9 for this to still be America.

4. What are they protesting? People die all the time.

But at the knee of police? But unarmed?

Well yeah, sure. They can’t all be black.

And are any of them white?

Who knows? But those police officers certainly aren’t black.

I suppose you’re right, but what can we do?

Yeah…this is America.

Yeah, this is America.

#america, #black-art-matters, #black-lives-matter, #equality, #hard-conversations, #history, #hope, #human-rights

An Awkward Pause (excerpt from “Hard Conversations: Love Poems”)

The parts of self we smother

To keep silent

So that we are not falsely accused

Of over-reaction

So that we are not falsely accused

Of being

“Soft”

So that we are not falsely accused

Of (un)professionalism

Of protest

So that we are not falsely accused

Of inserting an “I” where “I” does not belong

As if I, as if we, don’t belong in front of feelings

As if I, as if we, don’t feel

The phantom knee on my, on our, necks

The parts of self that hold tight to our chest

That clench almost painfully behind closed lips

The parts that resent us for pressing the pillow exactly where other parts asked the pillow to be pressed

The parts that never run out of breath, that don’t submit to the attempt to suppress, even when breath falters

The parts that care nothing of status quo and take sustenance from passive resistance

The parts that cry out, that raise up, that stand proud, that hold firm

The parts that find air to breathe despite the knee

Those parts understand

They understand that sytemic silence is not survival

But acceptance

~Rahk.

#america, #art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #black-lives-matter, #black-stories, #equality, #gender-norms, #hard-conversations, #human-rights, #masculinity, #poem, #politics, #raw

Maaan

1. Maaan, you must be crazy

To think that I’m going to hold it all in

To reflect your blurry image of masculinity

You ain’t no mirror of mine

Light does not bounce between us

When I stand naked

Before a modest vanity

2. It makes no sense for rock to float

It makes no sense for water to dig graves

It makes no sense to know you are vast yet refuse to acknowledge your sky

Don’t hold it in, not when ocean water presses its skin against sunrise

I won’t hold it in, not when rushing water wears solid rock like old garments

3. Why should I hold it in?

Bruh, for whom would I be saving face?

I know who I am

I know Jesus wept

Why can’t you? Why can’t I?

Are we not vast? Are we not sky?

Maaan, gone and cry

~Rahk

#black-men, #black-stories, #fathers, #grief, #hard-conversations, #hope, #letter, #lgbtqa, #love-poems, #manhood, #masculinity, #mothers, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships, #rock, #sons, #toxic-masculinity

You Tried It (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations: Love Poems”)

You are less empty than you pretend

You are no cup air drying on the counter
You are no tablet, factory reset successful
You are not the first page in the sketchbook of an undiscovered artist

You are far less empty than you pretend

You are:
A crescent moon peaking from your whole self,
The beginning of a hidden forest,
The living scripture spoken by God
punctuated by revelations.

You are full and splashing over the hard edges of the Hoover Dam
unable to be contained
by concrete, steel, and man’s intentions

~Rahk

#art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #egos, #faith, #hope, #life, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry

The Text Read: “I need u to write me a poem…”

When the text came in, I was overjoyed. As an avid advocator of self-expression, I insisted that she was perfectly capable of writing it herself–she, of course, begged to differ but sent her thoughts anyway. She would not let me convince her that her thoughts, as they stood, qualified as a poem. She laughed me off and insisted that I take the wheel. Using her original poem/thoughts as a guide, I composed a new poem. It was as exhilarating as always! Here is her original:

Happy,
I don’t want your so-called happiness
I don’t want to be so happy
that I strain my physical astigmatism
To adjust my minds eye to the blindness
of my deceitful figurative heart
I don’t want to be happy anymore,
knowing that when I turn the corner
I’ll be blindsided by a breathtaking blow
I don’t want to be happy anymore
ignoring the push of your pain
and the pain of your push
I don’t want to be happy anymore
when u ask for I do
but show me you don’t
until you do again
I don’t want to be happy anymore
if it means extreme highs and bottomed out lows
I don’t want to be happy anymore w/ you…

~Anonymous

Poetry, for me, has always been conversation. A conversation between the heart and the mind, or between the writer and the subject, or with no one in particular. The next poem is my side of the conversation, my response, which I see as a sort of translation.

Your so-called happy
don’t spell itself out for me
for us
for this we I faithed
into existence
This happy you preached
to my congregational heart
This happy you requested offering for
only to frown at my 2 cents

You are not familiar with kneeling
You do not understand altars
Your happy knows nothing of repentance

I don’t want no happy
that requires a sermon
before I can eat
I can’t rejoice over no happy
that disturbs my astigmatism,
changing how I see myself
I can’t use no happy
that hurts to smile through
for us
for this we
I feared into existence

You can no longer sway me
with charismatic words
and open arms
I’m keeping my last 2 cents
You’d misplace ’em anyway

~Rahk

Ahh. The joys of collaborative expression. Who’s next?

#art-therapy, #gender-norms, #hard-conversations, #heart-break, #life, #love, #love-poems, #poetry, #raw, #relationships

Holding On

Absentmindedly, I clenched thoughts of you in my fist– forgetting the point until I bled.

I hid the wounds, but not well. They were palm-sized riverbeds, overflowing.

I did not intend to bathe you in blood. Nor did you mean to break the skin between us.

~Rahk.

#hard-conversations, #letting-go, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry

On The Day That Marriage Was Honored Equally (From “Hard Conversations: Love Loems)

On the day that marriage was honored equally
I got into a bit of a debate with
A young minister
About the context of things
About how it would make sense
To know what a forest is before you decide you can see through it

Context was revealed
But I’m sure he only saw through it
Trees compose a forest just like people compose a marriage
And weddings are forests in autumnal garb
Brilliantly reflecting sunlight as newness fades

And people thrive in the context of love
No matter the clothes they put on
Or the measure of their melanin
Or the fault in their constellations

We are and have always been zodiacs.
Dusted destinies and big bangs
We are and have alway been celestial bodies that will die long before our light fades

From forests riddled by winter

From forests lacking petty concerns like

people sleeping together

night after night

We are both trees my brother,

But I would never vote to prevent your forest
So long as it grows and nurtures

I see your forest, my brother
I see your forest
Yet, you begrudge me mine

#art-therapy, #black-stories, #christianity, #church, #divorce, #god, #hard-conversations, #homosexuality, #lgbtqa, #marriage, #poem, #poetry

A Reminder

Don’t give up when it’s right,
When your soul becomes sky at the notion of success.
Don’t give up when it’s right,
Even if your body quakes at the hint of failure.
You have withstood Tsunami
You have withstood Hurricane
You have withstood Pharaoh in his many forms

Don’t give up when it’s true
If, when you speak it, you are humbled
As if that truth is a mountain you must climb barefoot
As if that truth is a bullet you must catch by hand
Don’t give up
When it is water after generations of thirst
Don’t give up
When it is a sun rising on a new day
And it will rise
Because you waged war to see it

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #faith, #life, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #stop-killing-us

Favor (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations: A Collection of Love Poems”)

SMS Draft: Ma says I look like you. I take her word for it–it’s hard to compare memories to reflections.

[delete]

SMS Draft: Man, what can I say to you besides hey and happy new year, besides one day soon, besides I love you too, besides mama’s doing fine, besides silence?

[delete]

SMS Draft: Dad stands hesitant behind my teeth–Barred, and though there is this gap, Dad does not slip through despite a gentle push from my tongue.

[delete]

Mama raised me to be careful of namecalling.

-Rahk

#art-therapy, #brainstorming, #fathers, #hard-conversations, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships

Numbers (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations”)

i sat between your feet counting
the hairs on your legs
(two hundred thousand twenty-four)
rather than the number of times you frowned
when looking to me for answers

(once…)

one time.

i never asked, that one time,
why your head shifted in rhythm to revolution
why doubt tilted your axis
why you couldn’t trust your world in my hands
i couldn’t God for you
i couldn’t God for you

~Rahk.

#faith, #fathers, #gender-norms, #hard-conversations, #love, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry, #raw

Scattered (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations”)

like sunflower seeds and cigar ashes and Bic lighters in college apartments

like a new mother’s worries, single or not

like

like my father’s children

sunflower seeds and cigar ashes

Bic lighters in college apartments

dust in the suburbs dust in the hood dust in the pews of full churches

new mother’s worries new father’s misconcerns

good cops good politicians honor among priests

the right to due process

privilege among thieves

sunflower seeds and cigar ashes

Bic lighters between bishops

Walmarts and cockroaches when the switch is flipped

dandelion seeds in Franklin county fields

Wafflehouses and hip hop clubs in the city

cigarette butts and futile scratch offs

like

like our Father’s children

like my Father’s children

~Rahk.

#art-therapy, #christianity, #hard-conversations, #history, #relationships, #spoken-words, #talking-to-myself