The Resort (A Pandemic Poem)

I just want to go for a swiiiimmmm
After a bath in the sun
Mango Wheat Orange Moon
Wide palms praising the One
Who knows the count of the sand
& cowrote my Mama’s Gun

Booming Bluetooth speaker
Conversating on . . . & on
As the sweat drop-glistens
Orange Moon drops    gone
Seashells beneath brown feet
Seagulls eyeing my phone

Wooooosh, a flirty breeze
Guides us to the shore
Woooooo this ocean’s crisp
Won’t be sweating no more
A tight hug to the sea
Ain’t no stress to report
Oh wait, ’tis the season for Covid
& The Cost of Living’s the resort

~Rahk.

Shout out to my art ma [in my head] Erykah Badu.

#art-therapy, #beach, #black-art-matters, #covid-19, #daydream, #erykah-badu, #humor, #mamas-gun, #orange-moon, #pandemic, #poem, #raw, #spoken-words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grandpa, Does This Mean Civil War? (Possible Addition to “Hard Conversations”)

I see stained glass families

Smashed to the ground by presidential decree

Then separated shard by shard

Shredding the American flag

I see impatient rivers of blood
Wandering wildly from brown rainbows
Gunned down in neighboring homes

I don’t see no whips
I don’t see no rope
I don’t see no canines
Just soldiers cradling rifles
In inner city malls like land mines

And I see civilians teargassed
In social media posts,
Not yet riddled with bullets
But uniformed handprints on brown throats
Live recordings of homicide notes
Claiming no foul play exists

The Whites Only signs
Camouflage as red lines
Around neighboring hoods
Brown faces appear as viable goods
And we’re still marching
for colored lives
Still deemed uncivil and disobedient

I see war cries against voter suppression
I gape at documentaries by white people
Discussing their privilege

But still
I see people snatched from the front lines
I see obituaries for innocent women and men
I see Jim Crow puppeteering all the party lines
I see warnings of white hoods again
And new Columbines
And the Charleston 9
And the Pulse of 49

I don’t see no whips
I don’t see no ropes
But I see presidential tweets
Threatening military force against black lives

In 2020, the most malevolent mobs
masquerade as ardent allies

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #hard-conversations, #poem, #poetry, #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

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