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

Badu’s Son

A Badu song

Mothered my manhood

Told me

Boys can cry like yeyo

Told me

Boys, too, miss planes when dragging too many bags

Told me

God’s image is mine to claim as I am

Told me

Buildings crumble so why should one bear my name

Told me my name is a Black mother’s prayer

Answered in faith, with sound mind

Told me man’s strength is not greater than womb,

but born of it

in God’s time.

~Rahk

#black-art-matters, #black-stories, #erykah-badu, #faith, #love-poems, #manhood, #masculinity, #memories, #mothers, #poem, #poetry, #toxic-masculinity

Ask America if She Prays

Ask America if she prays
If she turns to Mecca or Medina
Or a dilapidated temple
Ask her if she bows her head
in silence while drinking Merlot
And munching Merita
Ask America if she battles jihad
If she moans like great grandmas
Or weeps like the son of gods
Or the scar of David

Ask her if she prays.
Then ask her 
If she lays prostrate on bloody ground
Or reclines on rickety pews—
They pierce your side if you don’t sit still
What is faith if not splintered?

Ask her if she wails at the Western Wall
If her knees have been bruised by absolution of sins
If her back bends to the will of her forefathers
Or hugs trees that smell like Trayvon Martin,
James Craig Anderson, Emmett Till,
Burmingham’s Four, Corporal John C. Jones,
Roger and Millie Kate Malcolm,
George and Mae Dorsey,
pregnant Mary Turner
and all other Persons Unknown

Ask America if she prays
For herself or for her enemies
For her future or for her past
Or does America trust in good deeds?

America must pray serenity
To change the things she dared not
And accept the things she had the audacity to do
And to never learn the difference

Ask her if she prays skyward
Or to a torrid tormented South,
to an idol or to a god
To a beautiful or a brave
We all just want to be free
Ask her. Ask America if she prays
And I bet she’ll tell you that prayer,
Just like hope, ain’t for everybody 

~Rahk.

Originally Published in the 2013 volume of the Coraddi

Black Poet’s Sermon

I preach
Floetry’s gospel
Administering poetry
I preach
Black Voice
Kendrick flows
“We alright”
I promise
We alright
We just speak dialect differently
Cast words
like griots

We too familiar
with feelings
Language bends to our pulse
And we preach
I preach
I preach
Saul’s doctrine
How ‘She’ square roots men-
Solving problems
on pages
Calculating thoughts-
Making simple equations of
miscommunication

I’m just one successor
Not the first
Not the last
I may walk in shadowy valleys
But my words
are a Rapture
Embodying Revelations
and Maya reclaimed her wings
For us
To fly before we die
To live our “Amens” outloud
in these sermons-
Classically
defined by the kinks
In our dialect

I speak
I speak
We speak
Folk just ain’t been listening
Too busy sippin’
On centuries old wine
We spit     it out
Prefer our spirits fresh
from the vine
Somewhere between ’74 and ‘89
But you keep drinkin’ the “good stuff”
We’ll keep turning
We’ll keep turning
Parables into wine
Or something far less conservative
Yet much more pleasing to the palate  
Take this poem
This bread for your mind
Our flow is the body
Our honest words
Well, that’s newer wine

~Rahk.

#art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #black-stories, #english, #maya-angelou, #poem, #poetry, #raw

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

The Blood of Babel (Revised)

If we discarded egos
as quickly as we discard people
We might be able to build that tower to God

Inaugurate this address
This petition of just cause
This foremost amendment
that predates the deadbeat dads
who hated us as much
as they lusted after our
mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s curves

Still, we rise above poverty lines
police stations and prison cells
and projects and culdesacs
and estates and dorms
and factories and sawmills
and diners and churches

We faithfully await more than a night
of living slaves, leaving severed hands
in their shackles.
You will know that a reckoning is afoot.
And there will be no hooves pounding
Wall Street warning of invasion
We are already here

We Malcolms and Kendricks
We Jasons and Patrisses
and Alicias and Opals

We Derays and Olivias and
Kamalas and Sandras and Shondas
and Baracks and W.E.B.s

We will never be moved
and our discarded egos
will staircase our tower to God.
Not our brown bullet-laden bodies
Not our blood striping the American flag
We are children of Babel.
We will no longer let deceitful tongues divide us,
Rather we unite with forehead kisses
Kisses lacking the viscous spit of betrayal
We will be redeemed as we weep in the clay
that formed us, we will construct visions
rather than undervalued dreams
Our name is America for we have been,
and will always be, the brave.

~Rahk

#america, #babel, #black-lives-matter, #egos, #grief, #history, #poem, #poetry, #spoken-words

Choose Again (Excerpt from Hard Conversations: A Collection of Love Poems)

It’s possible that I found God
on a lonely road to damnation
where my GPS guided me with
words of discouragement

If only I were David instead of Jonathan
If only my love was inherited
instead of ordained
If only my psalms were sanctioned
by chosen men and recited in times of turmoil
rather than demonized

It’s possible, that I walked by God
on that lonely road to damnation
Likely, that I didn’t even see God’s hand
My eyes weighing my feet
with each laborious step toward hell

I felt a hand on my shoulder
I heard a voice telling me to turn right
I smelled a burning bush
but I did not feel worthy
to remove my shoes
I could not stand bare
on holy ground
or so I’d been preached

I kept walking on that desolate road
I kept looking down in resignation
I kept overlooking God
so busy focusing on my steps

My feet too sore to continue
My legs quivered with the strain of the cross
nailed to my mannerisms
My eyes, forty days and nights of storm
My prayers, overtaken by thunder
or so I assumed

My God, a hand to anchor my soul
My God, an arm across my shoulder
My God, a chest on which to weep
My God, a finger lifting my countenance
My God, a rainbow of liberty
on the road to internal damnation
Urging, urging me to turn back

Turn back for once
Back toward Me
Turn back, and run.
Your steps are now redemption
Your tears are now baptism in My Name
Your eyes are watching Me
This is the path that they have given you
It’s the path they taught you to choose
Choose again
This is the path that they have given you
It’s the one they taught you to choose
Choose again

~Rahk.

#black-stories, #christianity, #church, #god, #hard-conversations, #homosexuality, #lgbtqa, #love-poems, #poetry

To The Karens

It’s like your family stood
Just a few feet away
Camera rolling
As your neighbor smirked
When his foot cracked
Benji’s ribs

It’s like you filmed your neighbor
drawing his gun
as you scream for him to “Stop!”
Crying, “Don’t do it, sir, don’t do it!”
Benji’s a good dog!”

It’s like your neighbor
Placed his knee on Benji’s neck
Smirking all the while
As the breath left Benji’s body

It’s like you pressed charges
and your neighbor’s sentence was a paid vacation
It’s like you pressed charges
and his punishment was a charity raised
It’s like you protested outside his door
And the president sent the military to his aid
It’s like your Benji, your dog, wasn’t family

But it’s not like that at all if that neighbor is Black
And you call 911 to complain about the laughter and music
Blessing your neighborhood at 6pm
Rather than letting it slide
Like your neighbor did for your family BBQ just last week

And after the call you carry on
Until the gunshots sound
And you peak through the blinds
Blue lights flashing
And you see your neighbors son on the ground
Legal bullets in his chest
Because he startled the officer
Dispatch sent at your request

~Rahk

#america, #art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #black-stories, #hard-conversations, #mourning, #poem, #stop-killing-us

You can break rock

It crumbles soon enough
or slowly sinks back
to the earth

It is hard
but not indestructible

I will never be rock
I am indestructible
but not hard

I should probably
see a doctor about this

~Rahk

#masculinity, #poem, #poetry, #rock, #toxic-masculinity

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

Closed Letter to Racists

Because you are human, I greet you.

But because you are racist, I do not greet you dearly.

Because you are racist, I cannot appeal to your sense of morality.

You have spat upon the flag of freedom. You have denied the pursuit of happiness. You are no patriot.

Having tainted history, both past and living, with the bile of your existence in a world that was never your own.

You do not seek to reconcile. You do not seek to understand. You hold on to the hoods that hide you from yourself.

You are no godsend. You are not divine. But you are a spook, preferring to possess people rather than truth.

Oh racist, no patriot holds you dear. But how can we when you are ashamed to show your confederate face?

Remove your hood.

What do you have to fear, don’t you claim a god is on your side? Don’t you have righteousness burning crosses inside you? Remove your hood.

A born American would.

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #christianity, #hard-conversations, #history, #hope, #literature, #poem, #poetry, #stop-killing-us

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

And Then Trump “Suggested” Military and Stronger Police Action Against Protesters

You try to protect yourself. You play it smart. You listen, 5 years old again, to mama as she explains what to do if someone hits you first. You listen, 5 years old again, as she reminds you, for the hundredth time to ask permission before sudden movement. You wonder why it matters. Until you are stopped. Until memories of white hands hovering nervously near official firearm looms over your shoulder. You dodge Instagram. You dodge the Facebook stories of raging activists. You dodge the hashtags. You watch reruns of Insecure. You talk to God, tentatively, trying not to question too much, but God knows the questions quicken your heart. So you check on family, you check on friends. You click off of the Sensitive Content Ahead warning just in time. You try to release the anxiety in a tweet, there’s only so many characters to containt your neurosis. You log off for the sixteenth time, stepping gracefully onto front porch unaccosted. You embrace the bird song as you stand, distantly staring into a cloud-filled blue sky. You sit down. It hits you. You’re Black in America. You’re Black in your home, in your yard. You’re Black on and off social media. The tears fall. They still do not understand. You still have to explain. You still pray. You still worry. You still wonder if you’re next.

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #grief, #raw

Our Screams Have Not Been Loud Enough for Centuries

#black-lives-matter, #raw, #spoken-words, #stop-killing-us