NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 30: Advent

white calendar on white surface
The pitter-patter of rain
on my windowsill sounds
like the ticking of a clock
winding down to frigid
temperatures, when the
water droplets will freeze
to dust and the countdown
to Christmas commences. 

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 29: Under the monkey bars

woman in white tank top and black and white striped shorts sitting on blue metal railings

Love Tanka #17

Remember when we
were young, playing on monkey
bars? You held me up
so I wouldn't slip, but I 
felt your eyes under my dress.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 28: Beyond repair

trendy black woman reading burning newspaper in garden
This world is beyond repair—
mass shootings, divided politics, unchecked racism
litter newsprint—
I'm exhausted.

People are selfish. If it doesn't benefit them—
especially financially—
why should they care, why would they sacrifice?

We are all damned,
awaiting the trumpet sound to trigger fire
raining from the sky.
I light a cigarette, take a drag, then exhale
and flick ash onto the front-page headline:


People are beyond saving.
How much longer will we watch the world burn
before it's cleansed?

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 27: Debacle of the ‘leftover’ mac and cheese

overhead shot of a plate of mac and cheese

The morning after Thanksgiving I wake up craving leftover mac and cheese—only, we didn’t eat the traditional feast this year. Sure, there was turkey, but we chose corn chowder over mac, casserole over stuffing, yams baked rather than candied. But I have all the ingredients—the milk, the cheese, the elbows. No one has to know it’s not actually leftovers— only, the milk is low, so I add vegetable broth, and I’m all out of cheddar cheese, so the ricotta, pepper jack, and parmesan will have to do. The noodles are…the jumbo size. Did I bother to read the box? The cheese sauce looks way too soupy. I’ll add two beaten eggs and bake it in the oven at three hundred and fifty degrees for thirty minutes. It’ll taste…


Well, at least I didn’t experiment on Thanksgiving.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 26: In the cool dampness

In the cool dampness
of the early morning fog,
I think of you and wonder, 
does the mist on your
cheek make you cry too?

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 25: What if?

If I died tonight, murdered in the 
false security of my own home,
what would be your final memory of me?

The phone calls you ignored?
The text messages left unanswered?

Will you remember all the times you
thought me hysterical, accused 
me of nagging, overreacting?

You could have been my savior 
from twenty miles away. 

Instead you are the 
accomplice, the accessory,
worse than the killer himself.

And the guilt will ride you 
like a camel's hump 

as you lie in bed and stare 
at my picture until 
your eyes become heavy 

and it seeps into your dreams, 
that one haunting question:

What if I had only done something? 

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 24: Holiday tradition

A Thanksgiving Senryu

I'm stuffed like a bird
football game watches me sleep
leftovers for days

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 23: light of my life 

white daisy flower bloom

Love Haiku #19

light of my life, rise
with the sun, brighten my day—
springtime comes early

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 22: Pit stop

woman lying on bed

Love Tanka #16

Wake me up before
you go, fill my mug with smooth
dark roast. Dispatch calls.
What's the ETA? Stay—Blame
the COVID shipping delays.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

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.