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

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

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

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

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

It’s Okay (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations: A Collection of Love Poems”)

Be the man
that grows beyond
what people presume.

They mostly mean well,
claiming to know
how certain roses bloom.

Men, too, are enchanted flowers
Blossoming during monsoon.

~Rahk.

#hard-conversations, #personification, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #scenes, #sons

You Were Not Old (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations: Love Poems by Rakeem OneVoice Person”)

Lil bruh, I thought
maybe you’d rise
on the third day
after a releasing of purple and gold balloons
confirmed you had
in fact
died at 28

But you did not rise
You did not rise
from your sick bed
in the certainty of youth

When did you grow old in body?

I did not know.

I could ask why
but what are petty reasons
when you, Lil Bruh, simply did not
have strength to rise
three days after
laughter and normalcy
outhummed the motor
of your oxygen tank

I thought you’d breathe again
on your own
considering
how much we laughed.
I thought:
What is hospice to your little brother soul?

You were not old
We were not old
and even if we were
would hardearned wrinkles
have remedied suspended time?

I do not know
what more solace a silvered crown
would have bestowed.
I am not old
and I remember you clearly.

Sometimes my laugh echoes yours
as if my body is a canyon.
Other times, tears carve fresh streams
toward healing.

I wonder:
What is death to kinship?

You were not old, and your little brother spirit
still blesses the laughter
between my tears

I am not old
Though I fear I have aged
without you

Where do I start?

#art-therapy, #cancer, #death, #faith, #grief, #hard-conversations, #hope, #life, #loss, #love, #love-poems, #mourning, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships

Speak (From “Hard Conversations: Love Poems”)

A look is substantial.
The right look. The night look
is most tempting when its looked across a crowded room

I see us in our eyes.

Still, we must speak.
For though I am certain of attraction,
I am uncertain of how my confidence may touch you:
a soft whisper in back of knee.
a finger tracing arch of foot
a smile curving along your ear…

I gaze gently
but my hold is unyielding.
A Black man raised gently in the South
erects temples to a Loving God.

A word is substantial. So, baby speak
as if tomorrow wagers on a missed conversation.
Speak as though we love a loving God.

-Rahk

#hard-conversations, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry, #romance, #speak