Routine

With school back in session, the coffee shop was the fullest it had been all summer. Rhonda and Katy sat at a table by the window. One with black coffee; the other, sugar and cream. One with a dry, overbaked scone with blueberries that looked like raisins; the other, a bagel and cream cheese.

Katy looked like a pinned up first-time professor in a short-sleeved red coat dress and wedged heels. Rhonda looked the most out of place in her ripped baggy jeans and “not a hugger” t-shirt, a pair that was in the dirty hamper that morning, but still smelled alright.

“It’s not fair,” Rhonda said shaking her head, and then again, “it’s just not fair.” She put her phone face down on the table.

“You know, marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“How would you know? You’re a closeted lesbian.”

“I kissed a girl once, and I was in high school!”

“I’ve never seen you with a guy, Katy. Ever!”

“That’s because I don’t need a man to make me happy.” She folded her arms across her chest and turned her nose up to the ceiling.

“Well, I do.” Rhonda bit into her blueberry scone. Crumbs collected around the corners of her mouth, but she didn’t bother to wipe them away.

“You set feminism back 50 years.”

“Bite me.”

“You know, Rhon, you might find a guy worth marrying if you stopped acting like you were still 20 years old.”

“We can’t all be perfect like you, Katy.”

“I’m not perfect, I just…” Katy paused, looking at the straggly ends of Rhonda’s dirty blonde hair grazing the edge of her styrofoam cup, almost dipping into the coffee. With an audible sigh, Katy added, “When’s the last time you washed your hair?”

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Treat me like I’m a lost cause.”

“I’m not, I just—” Katy snatched the phone away before Rhonda could turn it over and continue to brood over the lastest Facebook engagement announcement.

“I wish people would be more real on social media,” she said while tapping her fingers on Rhonda’s screen. “All we see are these happy, perfect relationships, with their perfect hair, and perfect makeup and perfect engagement rings, and perfect in-laws who love them like family. People are innately selfish, and relationships are hard. Where’s the messy fights? The hitting below the belt? Bringing up past infidelity? Passive-aggressive status updates about mamas’ boys, and coddling mothers-in-law?”

“They usually post them in the middle of the night and delete them after an hour.” Rhonda belched into her fist then brought the coffee to her lips, sipping loudly.

“Why do I feel like you’ve done that before?” Looking over Rhonda’s disheveled appearance, Katy questioned, “Why do I feel like you did that last night?”

“Because, Katy,” she hung her head, as if a weight was sitting on the back of her neck, and looked up at Katy, barely raising her eyes past her chin. “I’m self-destructive. Obviously why I’m still single.”

“Aw don’t say that.you just haven’t met the—”

“Save it for your book!” Rhonda stood suddenly, nearly jumping from her chair, hair fraying. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom.”

Probably to throw up, she thought to herself. On her way, she caught the eye of the barista behind the counter. Definitely a freshman. Definitely too damn young for her. But that was definitely his number he’d written on the bottom edge of her coffee cup.

And definitely, if she was that desperate (she was), and drunk enough (she will be), a late-night booty she’ll regret later.

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#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: No Weapon

“Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy. No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 54:16-17, NKJV

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt.
The blind blessing we recited
as children over spilled food
on the dirty linoleum before
placing it back in our mouths,
swallowing with the confidence
that because God made it,
we cannot die.

But did God not create man,
and does he not hurt me
every day? From his heart
brews my downfall.
Date rape—
White supremacy—
Mass shootings—
A black, bitter coffee
he drinks with grit,
though it’s still boiling.

Shall I eat this bread
retrieved from a floor
on which a murderer may tread,
dragging my family and me
in a trail of blood behind?
God made him, right?
He cannot hurt us.


A revised version of the untitled original poem published February 4, 2015…may revise again later.

Sweet Heat

Love Tanka #11
(I believe I’m up to 11…)

We don’t talk about
the humidity—sitting
in his lap, panting
like dogs. He suggests no clothes—
A wink. I chuckle, he smiles

If We Were Having Coffee…

Good morning! It’s finally September, right? Then I’ll have a pumpkin spiced latte. Hold the whipped cream. Almond milk, please. I’m taking a break from dairy.

Don’t look at me like that. I’m not becoming another one of those nondairy, plant-based, “eating animals is bad,” basic, valley, vegan chicks (just a basic pumpkin spice chick) flooding the interwebs…

But, I may be going… lactose intolerant.

I don’t know, can someone suddenly become lactose intolerant when they’ve never had an issue before? All I know is I’ve been having some major digestive problems whenever I eat or drink anything with dairy in it. Noticed it mostly with the butter I put in my food because I actually don’t drink cow’s milk anymore… unless it’s in coffee…or mac and cheese.

Haven’t noticed a problem with cheese yet, but if that happens, I think I will literally die.

There is no vegan substitute for cheese. Period.

With a “T.”

PERIODT!!!

It’s like tofu. I don’t care how you dress it up, I know it ain’t chicken. And no matter how much cashew milk and nutritional yeast you put in your little witch’s brew…IT DON’T TASTE LIKE CHEESE!

Fight me.

But we’re getting a bit off topic. Let’s talk about the real reason you’re here…

Where the frack have I been?

I know, I know. It’s been about three months since my last post—five months since the last time you saw a post from me daily (April A to Z Challenge). Do I have an explanation for my absence?

Nope.

Well, I do… but I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. (Still dealing with the inner trauma of an ex calling me a nagging complainer… *cue uncomfortable laugh*)

If you really must know, let’s just say computers have not been a friend to my eyes lately. The whole office environment, really. Have you ever notice how bright those florescent lights are? Geez, would it kill ya to put in a dimmer??

But seriously, I think I’m finally learning how hard it is to balance a day job with my creative passions. Because let’s be honest, at my last job, I hardly did anything. Just sat at a desk and answered a phone that rarely rang. The highlight of my day was organizing some files, okay?

Now that I’m in a world of deadlines and production spikes and ever-changing style guides and meeting an editing proficiency of four pages per hour (which can sometimes be difficult when the material is really dense, poorly written, or God forbid, ESL!) all under too bright florescent lights and computer backlights, ya girl is T-I-R-E-D.

There, I said it. There’s your explanation.

When I come home from work, sometimes I just want to lie in bed, in the dark, with a cool, wet compress over my eyes. Getting back on a computer is furthest from my mind, unfortunately for you guys. Though, I appreciate those who still come back to visit my old posts.

And especially on those occasions when I do muster up the energy to write something and post, I thank you for giving me a second chance at entertaining you…

Like today…

Even though it’s with less than 600 words…

And it’s not fiction or poetry.

Hopefully, that will come back soon. When I’ve emptied my mind of all my work-related obsessions and stresses and have left them…at work.

And hopefully, it won’t be another three months before you hear from me again.

But for now, I have to say goodbye. I must rest my eyes.

Homebody Blues

Evie hates it when I call her to complain about my loneliness. If you don’t want to be a homebody anymore, stop being a homebody, she always tells me. Easy for the extrovert to say…

I call her anyway.

“Today I stayed in bed until well past noon.”

“Wow, that’s a new record for you.”

If one could hear an eye roll…

“Is it possible to live on the top floor and still have to deal with leadfoot neighbors?”

“Sweetie, it’s probably just somebody walking up the stairs. Your apartment is right next to the staircase.”

“Yeah, that’s the problem. The sound travels. And it feels like they’re stomping on my brain.”

Like a caravan of people walking up and down the stairs in steel toe boots. My head could explode, splatter these walls, and I swear you’d find the tread marks on the scattered pieces of my brain.

“Isn’t that an Emily Dickinson poem?”

“That’s ‘I felt a funeral in my brain.'”

“Same difference. You should be careful, you know. You’re starting to become like her.”

“Is it so bad to relish in the comfort of your own home?”

“But you don’t relish.”

She’s right. I despise it. But it’s not the fact that I spend most of my days at home or that my interactions with other human beings usually involve a screen or me avoiding eye contact with the neighbor kids and dog moms during my weekly treks across the parking lot to the mailbox.

I work remotely, so I really have no reason to ever leave the house. I like not having to pay for gas every week. Granted I make up for that by ordering in most days, and if I don’t watch my weight, my wardrobe of sweatpants and t-shirts will soon dwindle.

But what I truly dislike about my life is the stigma. Everyone just assumes that I’m not happy, and therefore it makes me unhappy. Even my own sister thinks I’d be better off if I had a man in my life. But Mr. Right’s not just gonna break into your house, she’d say. Maybe he will. What does she know? It’s not like she was any luckier going out and finding one herself, with her three roughhousing boys and absentee husband who only seems to come around to get her pregnant. The only reason I don’t ask her to come over now is that she’s supposed to be on bedrest. God only knows what those destructive little monsters are doing to her house right now.

I will never have children. So unless this man who’s supposed to make me happier comes with condoms or a vasectomy, I’ll pass.

“You should probably take something for that headache.”

“I’m all out. I would cook something, but my fridge is as empty as my stomach, and I don’t really look presentable enough to go anywhere.”

“Of course you don’t.” Evie sighs. I hate it when she sighs. It’s as if she’s exhaling all those years of disappointment in her own life choices onto me. I don’t need them. Hold your breath, Evie. You’re my sister, not my mom. I don’t want your judgment.

“I don’t know what to tell you, hon.”

“Nevermind. Sorry I called.” I hang up before she can turn the conversation into a lecture about how a lot of people have problems. You have the power to fix yours. As if to diminish or discredit the things I think and feel. I know a lot of people have problems. I’m one of those people, and my main problem is with other people.

But I wouldn’t expect the problem to understand.

The neighbor starts up again. The rumbling and the marching reverberating against the walls and penetrating my skull. I can’t take it anymore. Without thinking, and with bedhead, no bra, and a t-shirt barely covering my pantieless ass, I swing the front door open.

“Do you mind!”

Of course it’s a man.

He’s wide-eyed at first. Then his lips curl into a grin that’s either mocking me or amused.

“Sorry about all the noise. I’m your new neighbor.” He points to the open door behind him across the breezeway from my apartment. There’s a stack of boxes just past the threshold, and behind them, a couch and a rolled up rug propped against it are all I can see as far as furniture. He holds what looks like a broken down lap under one armpit and an ironing board under the other.

“Thirty more minutes. I promise.”

“Just keep it down.”

He stares, and in the awkward air between us, I realize how much of a wild woman I must look to him right now. When he sniffs (probably because of allergies—from where I stand, I can see the yellow film on the tops steps of the staircase—it is still spring; the pollen still high), I instinctively pull down my t-shirt (I haven’t showered today either. Sue me), which makes my bra-less breasts more pronounced, and I’m sure he’s mistaking my nipple rings for arousal.

But he is kind of cute.

Kind of.

“I can make it up to you.” He washes me over with his eyes, as if I’m on display and he’s picking fruit. “Let me take you out to dinner. Or I can invite you over if you don’t mind the mess. And maybe you’ll let me put a smile on that—”

I slam the door in his face and twist the deadbolt.

I feel the urge to go masturbate.

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Zeal (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Zeal

I’ll never tire
of hearing you say it—each
morning, knowing you’re mine

2019© Nortina Simmons

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Yes (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Yes

You had your answer
before you dropped to one knee,
flashed the ring, asked the question

2019© Nortina Simmons

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Xerophilous (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Xerophilous

Run away with me—
to the arid, dry terrain—
hop on back of my
motorcycle, I will show
you the world they keep hidden

2019© Nortina Simmons


xerophilous (adj) – thriving in a very dry environment

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Wish (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Wish

Two years ago, I
dreamt of romance, adventure,
of chasing a love
across the world—two years I
dreamt—who’d have thought it’d come true

2019© Nortina Simmons

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Virgo (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Virgo

You’re so beautiful
in the moonlight—the stars and
constellations can’t compare

2019© Nortina Simmons