#BlaPoWriMo – Saturday night special sonnet

Check out another poem from my friend Ray, written for BlaPoWriMo. Show him your love!

#ThisIsMyPoetryBlog

Each universe with which we interact
demands of us a level of respect
and complicity, yes, complicity,
while we wonder if we are hypocrits,
or merely disbelievers. As if it
even matters. And what doesn’t kill us
endows us, becomes our strength and power,
our shelter in a storm. The paths we trod
we tread, the record of our deeds becomes
our judgment day, our immortality.
Be patient with me – I’m not finished yet.
Pay no attention to my southern charm,
that folksiness you underestimate
is just a steady cadence for my march.

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Watermelon Season

I dreamt I ran him over, and the white women from work watched. Their eyes sought to spite me. I screamed to get help, but no one moved. “You’ll burn in hell for this, witch,” the woman in the center sneered. Her face grew redder with the inflection in her voice.

Looking in the rearview mirror, I see his blond hair first, combed to the right side of his head, the sides buzzed off. He stands behind my trunk, and I think about my dream, how I stood before a lynch mob as he lay dying. I’m tempted to shift the gear in reverse, fulfill the prophesy and accept my fate, but I take the key out of the ignition, shoulder my purse, and step out.

“Hey,” he says, waving both hands.

I nod, glance over my shoulder at the eight-floor office building looming over the parking lot.

“So do you have any plans for the weekend?”

I shrug. A car pulls into the empty space beside me. It’s the woman from my dream. Her brunette hair is chopped short and curled inside up to her ear. She cuts her eyes at me, and I quickly look down at my feet.

“Well, if you’re not busy, I was wondering if you wanted to go to the watermelon patch.”

“Seriously?”

He shakes his head, and his hair shuffles to the front of his face. He smiles, but I don’t smile back, and the loud door slam to the right turns our attention to the woman spying us over the top of her car.

I step closer, and whisper so she can’t hear. “Because I’m black, you think I like watermelon.”

“No, no!” His eyes widen. He backs up and instinctively looks to the woman, who still stares. She’s barely taller than her own car; she has to stand on her toes to watch us. I wish she’d go inside already. My throat tightens at the thought of her lassoing a noose around my neck and stringing me up onto the branches of one of the magnolias lining the walkway.

“It’s watermelon season. My uncle owns a watermelon patch. I like watermelon. I thought…”

“You thought what?”

The woman finally leaves us, but not before casting a scolding look in my direction. She must be content that he’s in no danger. He’s completed his job in offending me, and now I will leave too, scurry off to my tiny cubicle in the back of the office, segregated from the rest of them, and do my work silently as I’m told.

When the woman is out of earshot, he shoves his hands into his pockets and sighs. “I’m trying to ask you out on a date. Obviously I’m not doing a good job of it.”

I watch him as he looks everywhere but at me, and I wonder if he too is thinking of the consequences of my saying yes, if he’s dreamt of my death by his hand, of a mob of angry black women shooting curses, taking off belts, breaking off switches with which to whip him—the same weapons his people used to beat their souls down into the ground.

“We don’t have to go to the watermelon patch. We could do something different, like the movies, or dinner—what kinds of food do you like? I just wanted to do something different, something out of the box. You’re special, you’re different. I just wanted to do something nice for you.”

“Just be quiet.”

He instantly shuts his mouth, midsentence, and I lean against my side mirror. He waits for my answer, but I’m lost for words. My mind is stuck on “You’re special, you’re different.” Does he refer to my blackness? And again, I fear this proposal will only lead to our demise, that I will again be reminded of what we are. I am black, and he is white, and the world will always hate us for what we mean together, for what we are about to do.

And so I tell him, “I like watermelons too.”

—Nortina


It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a non-traditional love story

 

A Mother Still

When she returned home from the hospital, she locked her doors and lay in the bed alone. She didn’t move; she couldn’t, the pain was too great. She felt as if pieces of her had been ripped out from the inside—they had. She felt she was hemorrhaging enough blood for two persons—She was.

When she bled through her pad, she didn’t attempt to change it. She couldn’t if she wanted. She was too sore to roll over onto her stomach—empty and full at the same time—slide one leg off the edge of the bed, and then the other, crouch onto the floor and then pull herself up, take one step, and then another to the bathroom too far away.

She couldn’t imagine sitting on the toilet, wincing under the ache of the muscles in her thighs and abdomen pulled tight, looking down between her thighs into the bowl of the commode and seeing remnants of a life swirling and blending with urine and water. To see it caught up in the fibers of a maxipad clung to her skin, like a nightmare trapped in the dreamcatcher’s net. To feel drops trickle down her legs when she stood and slowly dragged forever filthy clothing back over her hips.

She curled around the pill bottle clutched in her fist. Prescription pain medicine strong enough for her to become addicted to after the physical pain had left her, but the emotional trauma still remained. She hacked up saliva and mucus from the back of her mouth and used it to push two down her throat. She lay on her back, watching the ceiling spin overhead. When she closed her eyes, she dreamt of drowning, of splashing to the surface gasping for air, and tiny little hands, stubby little fingers, dunking her head back under.

She woke choking, unable to breathe, and when she looked up, she thought she saw eyes, narrowed and burrowing. She sat up. Through the pain, she crawled to the other end of the bed, to her purse hanging over the bedpost, and retrieved a pen from the front pocket. Lying back, she wrote upside down, crooked letters on he stomach, below her navel, against her throbbing womb, in red ink.

Believe me, I loved
you—Before Winter’s smitten
death—And even still.

—Nortina


It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a story in the form of a series of letters. This haibun is the result of how I was inspired by the prompt—my “series of letters” coming together to form the melancholic haiku at the end of the story. 

Drifting

Still no tug on the line. Rick takes a swig of water from his bottle, sloshes it in his mouth and swallows. We’ve been drifting four days now. If we don’t catch anything tonight, we’ll live, but our water supply is dwindling. Rick spits another mouthful into the ocean.

My mouth is parched. The salt in the air further dehydrates me. The sunburn on the back of my neck stings like I’ve been scraped with sandpaper, but I must reserve my water. My bottle is a quarter full, but it is more that what he has.

From the stern on the opposite end, Rick eyes the plastic bottle between my legs, licks his lips. “Lemme have a sip.”

My line suddenly starts to spin, and I snatch up the rod and reel it in, but it fights me, pulls me and the boat further out to sea. I take my eye off Rick for just a moment, when the head of the giant grouper breaks the surface, and he dives over to my side, nearly tipping the boat, and guzzles my water, every last drop.

Now we have three days.

—Nortina


It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a prose sonnet: a story 14 sentences long. My favorite sonnet form is the Petrarchan sonnet, so this is a short story based loosely on that structure. And no, it is not a love story—not all sonnets are about love, obviously. 😉