NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 21: Dear, so-called friends

woman wearing tank top touching glass panel
If you don't like me, tell me.
Don't give me a false sense of
security, fly me out to paradise
just to send me to hell battered 
and bruised. Sever this friendship
before you sever my spine. Your 
smile is like the Cheshire Cat. 
You disappear while the grin
remains, haunting me as I lie

Was it worth it to humiliate
me, to record my final breaths,
turn my naked body into a
spectacle for digital eyes?
You hate me—I know that. But
judgment knocks on your door
and counts the nights you
have remaining. 

You can't go on lying.
God brings what is done in
darkness to light, and when 
that day comes, your sins
will be exposed, and you, 
as in the parable of the rich 
man, will gaze up from eternal
fire, where there will be weeping 
and gnashing of teeth, and 
scream for my Lazarus, for mercy, 
and I, shinning like the sun in 
the kingdom of the One who 
saved me from your betrayal, 
will look down upon your 
anguish and torment and 
repeat the words of my Father:

Depart from me, 
workers of iniquity.
I never knew you.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

The story of Shanquilla Robinson is truly a heartbreaking one. There are too many stories of young women murdered by “friends” who secretly hated them. I hurt for her family. I pray they find peace and justice.

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 16: Each day

black and white photo of person looking at the window

Lactose intolerance. Gastroesophageal reflux. Shellfish allergy. Heart palpitations. Each day a new WebMD misdiagnosis. My body is attacking me worse than pandemic fatigue. And the stress of a four-year long-distance relationship has added inches to my waist, additional pounds to my gut. The wait should feel lighter now that it’s off your procrastinating and onto government processing. Blame COVID delays, lack of funding, an unstable political climate, ethnocentric immigration policies—the timeline feels more indefinite with each tick of the clock. It’s the not knowing that’s slowly driving me insane. Each day I wake to repeat the same routine. Each day I pray it will be something different.

a mask to conceal
tears that cry oceans away
seven thousand miles

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

Long-time followers of this blog know I love Japanese poetry! So even though I’m late in joining, I still wanted to write something for the Pandemic Haibun Challenge hosted by trE on A Cornered Gurl.

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.

© 2017 Nortina Simmons

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.