SoCS: No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 30

She still can’t open her eyes.
I cradle her pink, oval
face in my calloused, black hands.
Paint chips still on my jeans—
finishing a job when I got the call.
Mother extends a blessing hand from the bed,
pink band around her wrist.
Her scratchy voice says Rosa.
The little body cupped in my wide arms wiggles.
Her nose scrunches. Her lips quiver.
She opens her mouth and releases a shrill scream.
My first reaction to the birth of
my precious baby girl—
Her breath stinks.

—Nortina


And I am done with my poetry writing challenge! Yes, I have successfully written a new and original poem every day for 30 days (though I never quite confirmed that 30 days would be the goal). If you’d like to read previous poems for my No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge, click the My Poetry tab on the navigation menu. This is also part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Love Is In Da Blog. Today’s prompt: relative/relativity.

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#LoIsInDaBL: No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge Day 29

Not Quite a Tanka

Grandpa’s lady friend
commented on my weight loss.
“It don’t mean nothing
if she ain’t got a man.” He’s
still upset I didn’t get my
MRS. degree in college.

—Nortina


This poem is dedicated to my granddaddy, the only man I can count on to buy me a gift on Valentine’s Day.

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SoCS: Breaking the Attachment

Jessica had her second nervous breakdown last night. The first came when Whitmore told her he didn’t put on a condom and she might be pregnant. Thankfully, her period came three days later. The second nervous breakdown came when he asked her to move in with him and she practically scratched the skin off her forehead.

Instead of checking her into the hospital, Whitmore took her back to his house. He undressed her, tucked her into his bed, and clipped her fingernails. He placed a cool damp washcloth on her bruised, red forehead. Then he took off his clothes, got in the bed with her, and kissed every inch of her body as she slept.

When Jessica woke the next morning, she didn’t know where she was. She didn’t recognize the beige colored walls, the ebony dresser or the flat screen TV on top of it, the queen-sized bed she was lying in—the only other furniture in the room—or the lone window, missing curtains or blinds. Whitmore was lying on top of her, his head resting on her breasts. It was then that she realized she was in his bedroom. She wiggled from underneath him, hoping not to wake him. She was completely naked, and she worried he might have done something to her while she was out. She didn’t think Whitmore was that delusional but she believed he was smitten enough to try something.

She searched the room for her clothes. The room was empty. The floor void even of lent or a tuft of public hair. She gave up looking and moved for the dresser. She didn’t want to still be there when Whitmore woke up. He would try everything in his power to keep her. She could already hear his excuses…

I’m washing your clothes. Wait for them to dry before you leave.

You’re not well. You fainted at the restaurant. Let me cook you something.

You look so sexy. Don’t put on your clothes. Get back in the bed. I love you.

Jessica put on the first article of clothing she saw: basketball shorts and and t-shirt. She didn’t care that it might have been freezing outside—it was still in the dead of winter—she was dressed enough to catch the city bus back to her apartment. She retrieved three dollars from Whitmore’s wallet and put it back on the dresser, then tiptoed out of the room. In the living room, she found her clothes folded on the couch. On top of them were her flats and her purse. She gathered the jeans, sweater and purse, and put on her shoes.

As she carefully opened the front door, making as little noise as possible, she searched her mind for ways to rid herself of this attachment. Whitmore had become too clingy, too needy, and she couldn’t take it anymore. It was only after she closed the door behind her and walked down the pathway to the street that she realized it was Valentine’s Day.

—Nortina


This is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday & Love Is In Da Blog. The prompt: attach/attachment.

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Read more of Whitmore and Jessica here and here. The posts aren’t in any order as far as a plot line goes, just working on sketching my characters.

No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 22

Today’s prompt for Love Is In Da Blog is to delve into the darker sides of love. Fair warning, I get pretty dark. If you want to read a happier poem, check out my love tanka here. For those of you willing to stick around, brace yourselves.

My lover called himself a wolf.
I didn’t believe him—
his lips were too soft,
his eyes too green, naive—
but when we made love
for the first time,
he flipped me over
covered my head with a pillow
defiled me from behind
the way he’d seen it done in
endless internet movies,
and I finally understood.
He said he liked it—
relished the illusion.
I cried into the lukewarm
bath water of our
porcelain tub when I
realized I wasn’t
the first girl he’d
explored his fantasy with
but I was the only one
who consented.

Nortina

Love Is In Da Blog: A Dedication to My Father

This is a letter to my dad. He died back in 2010. Tomorrow would have been his birthday. This poem is a freewrite that I wrote two years ago and emailed to myself. I won’t include it in my No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge, since I promised you guys no recycled poems. But when I read today’s prompt (a dedication to a loved one), for The Bee’s Love Is In Da Blog, this poem immediately came to mind. I hope you enjoy, and . . . try not to cry.

Daddy

They spread your ashes over the
ocean at Folly Beach, SC—
your childhood safe haven
where you ran away when your
mother refused to show her love,
when your older sisters teased you
about your height,
your peasy head,
your black, ashy skin,
they could only see you at night when you smiled.
You stood in the water,
let the waves kiss your ankles,
imaged being closer to your father in Vietnam.
Did you know you were in the wrong ocean?
Is that why you moved to California after the divorce?
But Granddaddy had returned by then.

I remember the stories we told when he died—
the sugary treats he baked for us whenever we visited.
We joked that he was actually a spy
for the army posing as a chef—
that he did more than just serve the white soldiers.
The last time I saw him alive,
he took one look at my brother
and screamed his name.
He was calling you, though.
He missed you—
you only came home when he died.
I remember how we held each other at his funeral,
trembling under the weight of the tears.
The tumors in his prostate were as big as grapefruits.
How big were the ones in your lungs?

We were invited to your celebration of life service—
Mom wouldn’t let us go.
We don’t celebrate death.
I had to Google your name to find your obituary.
Her name was first in the list
of loved ones you left behind,
no mention of your first wife—
I guess we were illegitimate.
Her sons were your sons
her grandchildren were your grandchildren.
You’ll never see your true seed sprouting.
Who decided you would be cremated—
that some of your ashes would be put
into tiny urns we’d wear around our necks?
We never received those necklaces—
Mom probably sent them back.
She told me you two talked before you passed.
You said you wanted to leave your wife—
you were afraid of her.
She wanted the cremation,
influenced by her son’s conversion to Buddhism.
But you thought your soul would burn in hell—
you didn’t want your body to feel the fire too.

I saw you a month before you died—
booked the first flight to California
when Mom told me you had three months.
You didn’t look sick.
You’d shaved your head,
you wanted the full experience of having cancer
though you weren’t getting treatment—
by the time they diagnosed you, it was too late.
You seemed happy, though.
You were laughing,
dancing, drinking beer,
playing your guitar,
crooning because you couldn’t sing.

The morning I left, you were lying in bed—
the same bed, I image, you died in.
I kissed your cheek, said goodbye.
Your last words to me were
I’m sorry.
The first time you told me you were sick,
I didn’t believe you.
I thought you were lying.
I though you were making up an inconsiderate tale
to get out of paying child support.
You abandoned us, your children,
abandoned your responsibility.
I hung up on you,
didn’t talk to you for weeks.
I know why you apologized
and I don’t know why.
I don’t want to know why.
I don’t want to be the reason you died crying.

—Nortina

No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 17

Love Tanka

When our fingers touch,
sticky and salty from the
Coke and popcorn, I
know our teenage love will last
at the back of this theater.

—Nortina


This is also part of The Bee’s Love Is In Da Blog. This week’s prompt: lovers spouses and significant others.

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SoCS: Love and Other Words . . .

I love my husband—
honestly, I do—
and even as I wrap
this cloth napkin
around his neck,
I wish he’d sweep
me up into his arms,
whisk me off to our marriage
bed, and make sweet love
to me on this Valentine’s Day.
Instead, he screwed his
23-year-old TA.
So I pull the ends
of this napkin
and squeeze the
ungrateful, unfaithful
life out of him.

—Nortina


This is a combination of Love is In Da Blog of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt: opposites in emotion. This is also my 16th installment of my No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge. Read Day 15 here.

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Love Is In Da Blog: My Opinionated Love

What is a good guy? Bitter.
A manipulator. A scam.
Ladies, you’re tired of being
punching bags, sex kittens?
Don’t be fooled
when a good guy exchanges
slaps for kisses,
fucking for making love.

You have a price to pay
when choosing a good guy.
You are every woman
who has ever denied him
wrapped into one docile package.
Acquiesce to his every request—
he is the good guy.

This is not control this is me showing I love you . . .
I call you every hour of every day because I love you . . .
I watch your house for unwanted guests because I love you . . .
I keep you from other men because I love you . . .

Prove you love him too.
Don’t be stupid—
all men are evil
but him.
You want love? Here is your option.
Show him respect—
he is the good guy.

Make love to him because you love him . . .
Share a home with him because you love him . . .
Shut out family, friends (men, especially) because you love him . . .
Die because you love him.

—Nortina


This is part of Love Is In Da Blog. Today’s prompt: Be opinionated about the thing called love. I ran with it.

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This is also part of my No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge, Day 14. Read Day 13 here.

Love Is In Da Blog: Red Roses and Bloody Fingers

I leave a red rose on her door step
every day for the month of February
in a year divisible by four.
The stem wrapped in a bow
the same color as the blood that
drips from her finger when she
discovers the ribbon conceals a thorn.
On each ribbon is a note

I love you . . .
I want you . . .
I desire to be inside you . . .

I hide behind the oak tree
at the center of her yard
watching her auburn hair fall over
her face as she bends to collect the rose.

28 days she pricks her finger.
28 days she licks the wound,
smiling as she reads the descriptions
of how I crave her touch, her skin.
One drop of blood lingers on the tip of her tongue—
I want to kiss it.

On the 29th day, the rose is wilted.
She frowns when there is no ribbon
containing a sweet message of devotion.
She picks up the rose,
drops it immediately.
The stem is covered in thorns—
a tiny puncture on each finger.
I step from behind the tree, startling her.
She backs for the door,
holds her injured hand before me
to halt my advance.
I take her by the wrist,
place each finger in my mouth
and suck the blood.

—Nortina


This poem is part of Love Is In Da Blog for the month of February. Fair warning: I’m not much of a “love” poet, so most of my poems will be quite creepy 😉 This is also part of my personal No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge. I believe this is Day 11. Thanks for reading!

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