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

Autumn Lapse

Love Tanka #5

Sun sets an hour
early; wind pushes east, sends
fallen burgundy
leaves adrift. Wool scarf tightens
around neck; coffee cools in

Styrofoam cup—pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin patch picked; please, contest
winner, spice up this
love with cinnamon kisses.
My Rip Van Winkle slept the

Autumn away; wood
splinters fracture his cheekbones.
Frost-bitten lips, blue
like night’s sky when moon is full,
and I dream he’ll wake in Spring.

© 2015 Nortina Simmons


Originally published October 21, 2015

Insane asylum patient #13

She liked to set things on fire. The final victim, a young poet, secret admirer.

He wrote her a poem on parchment, slipped it under her door.

roses are red, like
the polish on your nails, like
the blood in my veins—
my heart beats for you as I
muster the courage to say...

“I love you,” he finished. He couldn’t help it, had to invite himself in to see her reaction.

“Would you like to burn?” she asked.

His pulse quickened. “Yes!”

She crumpled the paper, stuffed it in his mouth, struck a match, watched him light with passion.

© Nortina Simmons