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

Play

u paused
frozen, but still whirring
and complaining
like a DVD

u are no machine
yet u let life control u
remotely

stop


Rahk.

#black-art-matters, #black-stories, #hard-conversations, #love, #love-poems, #poem, #poetry

Still, I Let You In (A Soliloquy)

I’ve seen the back of heads and asses switch to a goodbye beat too many times to count.

Said farewell in every language except happiness and left tears smudged on so many doorknobs I’ve lost count in the aftermath and still, I let you in.

Let you stop on the stoop, drag your feet across the plain old mat to keep from dragging grass across the carpet, and eventually, I’ll see those same feet dashing in the other direction, and it’s so depressing.

Still, I let you in. Still, I offer you a cool drink of water, or something stronger, but you’re never up for it. I sip alone.

Maybe these spirits won’t haunt your footsteps in the morning or the evening or the yesteryear I’ve come to live with…

#black-stories, #divorce, #gender-norms, #grief, #hard-conversations, #heartbreak, #love-poems, #soliloquy, #spoken-words

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

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

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

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

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

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