It’s Not Enough

An excerpt from Love Poetry.

© Nortina Simmons

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#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: I dream of wild strawberries

I dream of wild strawberries sprouting between the cracks of my dilapidated porch. Crawling on my hands and knees, I’ve regressed as this house; boarded windows, replace glass, cannot block the wind. The critters slip in at night, drawn to the dim light—a single lamp burns on my last paid electric bill. They settle in bed with me, finish eating the tattered sheets. It’s been days since the storm and still no relief, but I pry up the wood planks—splinters buried under fingernails. Fruit-shaped tear drops, the color of a summer sunset, red like the stop sign bent over backwards in overgrown grass. Seeds prick my tongue like taste buds; anticipation more satisfying than the bite. A sweetness that makes me forget the flood damage, the mosquitoes, the purple welts dotting my arms, the fever, the declined insurance claim, the spoiled milk and molded bread. A sweetness like Fourth of July cookouts, freshly mowed lawns, homemade ice cream melting on the spoon. A sweetness that reminds me of a lover’s kiss, saturates the mouth, explodes like a firework—as I sink in my teeth—and wake in darkness, cold, with drool on my chin.


Read the original, published October 17, 2017.

Transcendence

In the air, we spin—
like chopper blades—
as funnel clouds descend,
destroy the world beneath us.

Spume Kisses

Love Haiku #12

Spume kisses on toes—
He drew me out to sea the
summer the sun froze.

#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: Southern Love

He made sweet tea in
the mason jar he used to
catch lightning bugs those

childhood summer nights.
When we’ve finished it all, drunk
on honey, we lick

our tongues inside, reach
for the crystalized sugar
caked to the bottom,

fill our mouths with more
as the sun sets and our cheeks
glow like fire flies.


This is a revised version of the original poem, which was posted May 3, 2015.

Play Me

Play me like a guitar—
Let your fingers pluck and caress;
Strum my strings until
you find the right chords
to echo my parting lips;
Let your tongue curl as you
feel the rhythm loosen your limbs;
Make love to me in acoustic riffs.
I’ll tell you when to stop—
Our song isn’t over yet

I Think, Therefore…

I love you . . .
I think.
I’m pregnant . . .
I think.
Two words at the end
of a statement that make its surety . . .
questionable.

And yet, was it not Descartes
who only needed the assurance of thinking
to know that he was?
And is not God called the Great I AM
because His thoughts are unsearchable?
And what is in your mind but
memories of me and us and where we
might be had things played out differently?

I think about it more than I ought,
and I’m never quite sure—
So, maybe you can ease my conscience.

Tell me, what do you think of me in this dress?
And how confident are you of the words
that escape the gate of your lips?
Think . . .
carefully—
Then speak—
And maybe our love will BE.

#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: Together We . . .

What is there left to say? That is the question we must ask ourselves this final week of BlaPoWriMo. Does black poetry/literature still exist today, and if it does, for what purpose? Well, this poem, originally published February 15, 2016, explains why we still need black poetry…

Photo by @createdbyjarrod from nappy.co

Together We . . .

Together we hood our faces,
stuff our pockets with
Skittles and Arizona tea.

Together we lose the air
to our lungs from cigarette
smoke, forearms curled
around our throats.

Together we put our hands up,
surrender to tear gas
and rubber bullets
on evening news.

Together we are body slammed
in bathing suits, flipped
over school desks, strangled
from showerheads, executed
where children play.

Together we pray for peace—
as strangers wave battle
flags, hide assault
rifles behind Bibles.

—Nortina

#BlaPoWriMo: I met this girl…

I met this girl–skin like polished mahogany, hair like lamb’s wool, lips like plush cushions–she ruined my philosophy of the mad black woman. It is not a frown on her face but a grimace as she holds the weight of every black man who has sat on her back like an ottoman pulled from under the table for guests to rest their feet, have a drink and discuss the politics of the world too sophisticated for a female’s mind, who should know her place in silence when company is around. My heart skips a beat when she finally stands–shows me how tall she really is.

—Nortina


Inspired by Marquessa’s Lyrical Fiction Friday prompt: …I met this girl…she ruined my philosophy…my heart skips a beat when she comes around…

Written for Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo). This year, we’re taking a journey through the different eras of black poetry and history. This week’s era is: Harlem Renaissance

#BlaPoWriMo: Thoughts While Listening to X

Tonya wears jeans three days of the week
when only Fridays are reserved for casual
dress, but who’s checking when half the
office works remote; the rest leave before
five, and I stay behind stretched between
miscellaneous requests and thoughts that
I might have worn the same sweater twice
in one week or that my boots squeak when
I walk to the bathroom as the torn hem to
the only business pants I own that don’t
fit me like slacks drags across the carpet.
In front of the mirror, I stand against the
backdrop of four stalls and pick out my
afro that shrank three inches in the dank
atmosphere below the heating & air vent,
and return to my desk, earbuds plugged,
to fill the silence with the soundtracks of
Black Panther and hope the bald white
man in the corner office who frightens
me like a skinhead with a noose doesn’t
hear Kendrick encourage me too loudly,
Fuck the place up.

—Nortina


Poem inspired by the improvisational characteristics of jazz music and the Black Panther soundtrack that just came out today.

Written for Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo). This year, we’re taking a journey through the different eras of black poetry and history. This week’s era is: Harlem Renaissance