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

Solomon’s Questions

What can a man know of God
If he knows nothing of repentance?
What can a man know of repentance
If he knows nothing of a woman’s right to choose?
What can a man know of a woman’s right
If he does not witness softness as kin?
If he does not witness softness in men
If he does not witness often within
that strength of spirit overtakes strength of arms
Even chosen kings are not above writing Psalms

~Rahk.

#human-rights, #masculinity, #poem, #poetry, #toxic-masculinity

Attic. | By Allantra Lewis (Repost)

I looked in mirrors deep- Found myself in cobwebbed enemies,  I held my hand out in admiration. Of their colors. Of their authenticity. I am not whole without them. They are the pure part of this body, They are the basement voices,  The ones that I keep in mind- When I find too much sky, […]

Attic.

The latest poem from one of my favorite poets: Allantra Lewis.

Before 30 (a poem from “Water”)

Looking back
the questions I had
were more a proclamation
of autonomous
maleness

More affirmative
than outcries of “Punk!”

More nurturing than
“Hold it in. You bet’ not cry”
when you withstand hit after hit
when your body
is a faucet and an 
unsuspecting wall
built to withstand hit after hit

My questions were less interrogative
than sexual inquiries
and voyeuristic requests 
to witness bedroom theatrics 

Less deviant than conquest
Not as fearful as religion
Inconsequential to pink polos
and Mariah Carey in headphones

Innocence does not master sports
nor does it demand a wide stride
or pants that give in to gravity

Self-awareness counts
the notches in chastity belts

Looking forward
the answer is far more curious
than wandering eyes – 
Here be the island
which nurtures life
I’ll build here
with questions shifting my shore

~Rahk.

#art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #black-stories, #journal, #life, #manhood, #masculinity, #poem, #poetry

Flag

I voted for fear

of who this nation is
and has been

The kumbaya of all lives

does not equal freedom
does not equal justice
does not defund the system
functioning as a de factor spine
for the privileged

I voted out of necessity

because this country
has never lived up to its foundation

still handling colored cloth with more care
than colored children

Colored children,
living flags of American freedom,
still at half mast

~Rahk.

#black-art-matters, #equality, #human-rights, #patriot, #politics, #vote, #voter-suppression

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

Still, I Let You In (A Soliloquy)

I’ve seen the back of heads and asses switch to a goodbye beat too many times to count.

Said farewell in every language except happiness and left tears smudged on so many doorknobs I’ve lost count in the aftermath and still, I let you in.

Let you stop on the stoop, drag your feet across the plain old mat to keep from dragging grass across the carpet, and eventually, I’ll see those same feet dashing in the other direction, and it’s so depressing.

Still, I let you in. Still, I offer you a cool drink of water, or something stronger, but you’re never up for it. I sip alone.

Maybe these spirits won’t haunt your footsteps in the morning or the evening or the yesteryear I’ve come to live with…

#black-stories, #divorce, #gender-norms, #grief, #hard-conversations, #heartbreak, #love-poems, #soliloquy, #spoken-words

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

English 301 in Retrospect

They taught me that poems shakespeare into sonnets.
Piercing the present so William keeps living on
’cause we study his writing as if no other
art has been written. Shakespeare is dead but they still
won’t kill him. Or let him die. Worshipping his words,
they grant him eternal life. The skin of his voice,
a representation of White. He lives so free
on American soil. Immigrants in our art.
No wall was ever proposed for dead citizens
smuggled into the nation by the well-to-do.
I’m reforming the sonnet. Shakespeare needs rest, too.
He speaks no more. Writes even less ’bout much ado.
Silencing dead voices- my “taming of the shrew”.
Silencing dead voices- my “taming of the shrew”.

#black-lives-matter, #poem, #poetry, #sonnet

Rest

Go to Baptism Lake

Sit on the water, take a seat

Dip your feet

That hand on your scarred back

Is an inquisitive wind

That coolness is the sin of your obedience washing away

That warmth is praise for your skin

That sunlight is not a whip

That bird song is not an alarm

That splash might be a tear

But that’s okay, it’s okay

Rest does not require strong arms

~Rahk.

#art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #black-stories, #faith, #history, #poem, #poetry, #rest, #water

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

Some don’t belong on public domains

Some thoughts thrive on discretion

Some thoughts slip by undetected

Some thoughts don’t care to know their own strength

While others struggle to breathe past the knee

And still certain knees apply more pressure

For their thoughts never drift to consequence

For their privilege undermines certain life

For their privilege denies a certain right

For their privilege relies on the presumed purity of white

Some thoughts claim to not see color, preferring selective sight

~Rahk

#black-art-matters, #black-lives-matter, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #stop-killing-us, #thoughts

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