Strange Fruit (You Will Know Them)

1.

You say you love me

(For the Bible tells you so)

You say you love me

(For you are a child of God)

You insist you love me

But your love hits like hurled stones

But your love stabs sole of foot

It’s hard to walk

It hurts to walk

When your love vehemently rejects my shared need to breathe

2.

Such a peculiar love to offer sour fruit to starving children

Then stand repulsed, willfully withholding aid, when their bodies inevitably protest

How have you not choked on all the dust your love collects?

~Rahk.

#2020-election, #equality, #faith, #god, #hard-conversations, #history, #hope, #human-rights, #love, #poem, #poetry, #police-brutality, #relationships, #spoken-words, #stop-killing-us, #voter-suppression

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

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

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

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

Without Hands (A Poem for Loved Ones)

And thou art
pen and blank page
No mic upon wooden stage
And silence
Is a poem that
Holds a finger to the eye
That weeps
From the movement within
And thou art the answer
To the prayers
Of a warless soldier

And silence is a kiss on the eyelid
From lips that touch like the truth

And truth is the revelation
That love is a touch
Softer than tears
Therefore it can be touched
Even without hands

And thou art the words
That strike seeds with will
That they might grow
From their natural casings
That they might unearth sunlight
No matter how deeply buried
Their intended birth
And thou art the words
That spring forth from fatherless pines
Who took after their mothers
Both promising shelter and tempting lightning
To live is to burn
Kindling sunlight
In every unbidden tear

-Rahk

#faith, #hope, #love, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry, #relationships

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

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

MoonShine (Poem from “Raising Suns”)

-Rahk.

#hope, #love, #poem, #poetry

Celebrating One Year of Rahk’s Water

Re-presenting “The Art Inside”, a 2016 mashup of multiple poems that expressed a series of truths for your favorite bald poet. It’s 5 minutes long, but I think it’s worth it.

#hope, #journal, #life, #love, #memories, #poetry, #raw, #scenes, #spoken-words

Story Time: “Bound to Freedom (2014)”

“Sit here.” Hayden, at 29, did as he was told. His mentor, Noden, looked to the horizon, waiting patiently. Hayden waited, watching. His mentor never misses a sunrise. Noden wore middle-age as if it were youth, somehow hitting the senses as both old and young. He’s exactly as his brother, Ayir, described over twenty years ago before the earth took him. Hayden met Noden’s gaze as he joined him on the warming grass, the dew having departed as the sun ascended. The mentee wondered if his mentor was intentionally teaching him patience, or if he was just that fascinated with the sunrise. 

“Look around, Hayden. What do you see?” asked Noden, his voice resembling his appearance—ambiguously adultlike and childlike, at the same time. 

Again, Hayden followed instructions. He and Noden were on a small hill in a land man forgot, but woman remembered fondly. The gentle rumblings of the ocean, somewhere in the distance, causing a steady pulse in the air. The sky was the blue of clean unpolluted skies, inviting envy in robins’ eggs. Clouds stretched, like visible whispers, across the expanse. Hayden saw beauty. He felt nature; it’s resilience, it’s strength, and it’s fragility. He mentioned this to his mentor.

“Very good. Now…what do you feel?”

Hayden hated questions like that. They always seemed like a trick of some sort to him. He closed his eyes so he could actually feel instead of see. First he felt himself, his presence. An insect buzzed past him and he felt the disturbance of air. Hayden felt his mentor watching him intently and expectantly. The warmth of the sun beamed on his bare back. It was comforting. It’s the comfort the sun offers in the height of the Spring, before it becomes a violent ball of heat exhaustion. 

“I feel..I feel…small.” Hayden opened his eyes to see Noden’s nod of approval.

“Very good.” Said Noden as he reclined on his back which was also bare. The muscles in his stomach stretching as well. It was evident that Noden stayed in shape. He wasn’t what one would call ripped but he was toned, lean. Hayden was as well. It was a requirement for those who received training such as this. 

“Hayden, do you know why the angels can fly?” Again, Hayden thought this was another trick question but he answered anyway. “Ummm…because they have wings?” He tried to harness the sarcasm in his voice, but doubted that he succeeded. Noden could sense a flea a mile away if he desired to do so.

“Hmm. That’s the obvious answer. But it’s the false one as well. Angels can fly because they are free of earth. They are not bound to the laws that bind humanity.”

“What laws, sir?” Hayden was intrigued.

“Laws such as gravity, for one. But there are other laws; theories and revelations treated as truth by those in power and accepted by those without. Mythologies, religions, scientific studies, and philosophies perpetuate these laws, these ordinances, these pseudo-truths. Parents plant them in their offspring, encouraging their seed to avoid opening Pandora’s Box. All with good reason, mind you.” Noden turned toward Hayden, the sun seemed to reflect in his eyes. “But to simplify it for you, humans are bound to each other. Incarcerated by principals, expectations, doubts, worries, fears, thoughts, needs…and other countless burdens. But angels, angels are free from such concerns.”

Noden was sitting back down by the time he finished his little dissertation. Noden’s grey-green eyes blazing in the sunlight in his brown face; his peppered hair trimmed neatly by the barbers in the court. His legs were arranged in a manner many refer to as “Indian” style, though monks sit in the same manner, as well as other nations and cultures.  

              Hayden noted a ladybug on the sole of his mentor’s barefoot. He was barefoot as well. The only thing that covered them both was the ceremonial garb of those who sought to escape. The garb was merely a pair of pants the same color as the sky when it’s at it’s purest. They were sewn from a silken material yet they never stained or tore, though they were loose-fitting. Hayden mused they were inspired by angel wings. 

“So, their wings have nothing to do with it?” Hayden inquired, doubtfully.

“Well, who said that angels truly have wings?” Noden’s tone was teasing. “But, I wouldn’t say that the wings have nothing to do with it. I’m sure they assist in the aerodynamics. But, Hayden, what I want you to understand is their freedom. They are truly free. Angels are bound to freedom. And in order to master angelflight you must be as well.”

“But how? How do I become bound to freedom? I’m no angel. And I do have human concerns. Gravity has dominion over my feet.” Hayden sounded a bit panicked but it’s only because flight was his only desire. 

“Angels aren’t held down by human concerns, but they do feel.” There was a pause and Hayden knew Noden was waiting on him, so he took his cue.

“What do they feel?”

“Joy. Immeasurable joy! They were gifted with the innate ability to swim in the sky. To see more of God’s creation than the greatest fowl. Humans can tap into this joy as well, but it’s not not organic. It’s not of our own natural volition. Like laughing. My, when you laugh in love it’s…soaring through the free sky on your own wings. 

“But gravity affects every bird, insect, or flying fish.  What makes angels truly free?” The urgency in Hayden’s voice caused Noden to smile in remembrance. He was just as earnest when he came into the knowledge owed to every seed of God, no matter the fruit. 

 “Yes, yes it does. Birds, insects, flying fish, they are all of this earth, this realm that is ours. But angels were not a part of human creation. Not according to the creation stories of major religions. Angels were the seeds of another creation. A genesis before, or existing along with, that of the inhabitants of earth.” Noden closed his eyes, his words spoken in the key of butterfly wings. Hayden was quiet enough in his spirit to hear the sound. It was a meditation practice unique to their village. They’d become masters in their pursuit of angelflight. Noden defied gravity long enough to discover, what he christened, Third Twilight. He was among the elite wingless flyers celebrated in all the nations. And he was humble enough to train others, so that we might fly even higher together. As was his Calling, his students were not only taught how to fly, but also how to teach others. Bound to his thoughts, Hayden hadn’t realized that Noden paused, aware of his student’s inclination to wonder. 

“That’s due to gravity. And in addition to scientific proclamations, gravity is the tendency to give more weight to struggles than personal triumphs. Gravity is holding on when it’d be less taxing to release.” Noden stood, though float might be more appropriate, facing away from his student. “Gravity, dear Hayden, is a soul’s distraction. All this to say, to defy gravity we have to master the art of letting go so that we can hold on to joy, to freedom. And it’s that joy that gives you the peace that enables you to partake in the ultimate freedom, which manifests as flight.” With this said, Noden stood. He stood and there was an invisible force that surrounded him. Hayden couldn’t see it but he could sense it with that part of the human brain that is more than physical. In a breath, Noden was no longer standing atop the hill with Hayden. He was in the sky.

#faith, #fathers, #flight, #flying, #hope, #love, #prose, #short-story, #stories, #storytime

A Poem Translating: “She Crazy”

To her
I am a still puddle
slowly evaporating
She knows it’s happening
While she watches

She cries
Aware that the sun’s heat
Rushes my gradual escape
She defiantly yells,
Already familiar
With the freestyle
Of staccato raindrops

And her smile flickers with each drop
It jerks and tugs and pops
She can no longer see her beauty reflected
In me

Still puddle she sees
But I’m Atlantic Ocean
Pushing and tugging on southern shores
Still puddle she sees
Though I am Atlantic Ocean
On an October night

To her
I am a still puddle
Still evaporating
She prays for permanence
knowing parts of me are already gone

#hope, #journal, #life, #loss, #love, #marriage, #poem, #poetry, #relationships, #spoken-words