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 indendence

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

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

Currently (Excerpt from “Hard Conversation: Love Poems”)

I am that I am,
But so are they.
Still they hate.
But are they the devil?
They do turn red
With so much new blood
Staining their hands
Even as they vote.
They are that they are.
But so am I.
Am I forgiveness
At the same time that they
Are knee crushing necks?
Am I forgiveness
At the same time that they
Are propelling arsenal at unarmed citizens?
Are they forgiven
At the same time that they
Are standing back and standing by
While more of us live maimed, or die?

~Rahk.

#activism, #all-lives-matter, #america, #anti-racism, #black-art-matters, #equality, #human-rights, #poem, #poetry, #police-brutality, #sars

Solomon’s Questions

What can a man know of God
If he knows nothing of repentance?
What can a man know of repentance
If he knows nothing of a woman’s right to choose?
What can a man know of a woman’s right
If he does not witness softness as kin?
If he does not witness softness in men
If he does not witness often within
that strength of spirit overtakes strength of arms
Even chosen kings are not above writing Psalms

~Rahk.

#human-rights, #masculinity, #poem, #poetry, #toxic-masculinity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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