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 independence.

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

Revised for clarity on November 9, 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confession 1: Poem Against Terror (Excerpt from “The Pulse in the Pews”)

Originally published in print August 2018, “The Pulse in the Pews” is a knee jerk reaction to the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub and a particular church’s response to it. It expounds upon a pivotol period in my spiritual journey. One that sought to mediate religious doctrine with personal revelation and tragedy. One that sought to distinguish God’s voice in a sea of loquacious voices. The following is the first entry in “The Pulse in the Pews”, originally entitled “For Gay Christians Who Consider God When the Church is Not Enough” as an homage to Ntozake Shange. Comments are welcome. You can also message me through my Contact page. Enjoy.

Poetry enables us to speak the truths we may not readily communicate in common, everyday language. Because of it’s nature, poetry empowers the individual who harnesses it to discover insights ordinarily hidden in everyday language. As a spoken word artist and published poet, I had performed poetry on numerous occasions in bars and nightclubs, schools, parks, etc.. But one particular venue used to terrify me because I felt as though that place would not receive who I am as I am.

Poem Against Terror

And I’m afraid to perform in church.
In my truth. In my As I Am.
In my burdened and heavy laden
Which weighs more like angel dust and
defeating Satan-
As I Am
I’m AFRAID to perform in CHURCH
Because I am with Pulse
Because I am without my rib and
C R E A T E D
Because my faith has challenged mountains
Because my faith has challenged me
Because my love is created by God
I am with PULSE
And sometimes I CAN’T BREATHE
And sometimes I BELIEVE
that God is so GOD that even ME
Even me
He doth LOVE as I AM
As we are created
As we are hated by the love of god
As we are berated for the will of God
As we are related to the children of GOD
As we are
As we are
As we are
I am no longer afraid to perform in church
I speak those things that be not
as if they be
I am NO LONGER afraid
to perform in church
As I am
I am beloved by God
I am with Pulse
I CAN breathe
And I must breathe whispers
Into the soul
Because whispers are seeds that grow
Because I am a seed I know
Can move mountains
And walk in the valley of the shadow of churches
Because He leads me beside still bodies
that should not be without pulse
They should not be still
We should not be still
We should not be afraid
to seek God in church AS WE ARE
We, too, are BELOVED by God.

#black-lives-matter, #death, #excerpt, #faith, #gender-norms, #grief, #history, #hope, #journal, #lgbtqa, #love, #memories, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #spoken-words

TO MR. DUNBAR

The mask I wear envies
the dark side of the moon
and eclipses the sun

So I leave it in a box
beneath some ill-fitting clothes
I’ve been meaning to throw out

-Rahk.

#black-lives-matter, #fathers, #gender-norms, #history, #paul-laurence-dunbar, #sons