April 5, 2015

He gets drunk off a nice red.
She gets drunk off his attention.
So as the serum starts to kick in,
his wandering eye is sobering.

She’s radiant in her Sunday white,
but a lady in red has lured him.
She could sip to numb the sting,
but tries a beckoning gaze instead.

He wishes she’d join for a moment
to appreciate God’s creation,
but he dares not invite her
and send a blow to her pride.

The impasse is brought to a halt
as her hand caresses his shoulder.
He turns to her slowly and says,
“Don’t mistake my eyes for my heart.”

- amelia simone

(Image: William H Johnson, Café)

Color is the closest I’ve come to infinity.

As a kid, I often wondered if there were endless colors. I can remember being somewhat concerned about whether we’d use them all up one day. Like many children, I relished opportunities to use the crayola 64 pack. I distinctly recall the rare instances of getting a fresh box, either because it was the beginning of a new school year or the old ones had all been worn to nubs. One reason I remember these moments so vividly is because a new box would occasionally include a new color, or at least one I’d never encountered.

My mind couldn’t quite fathom this. A new color?!! Where did cerise come from? Was cerulean conceived in the human mind? Did citrine appear in a dream? Did someone happen to come across a shade in nature that no one had ever noticed and attempt to mimic it?

Even now, as an adult, I stand at the polish rack in the nail salon for unreasonably long periods of time, marveling at the constantly refreshed array of pigments. I browse every shelf and turn over countless bottles, amusing myself with the names people have come up with for each unique hue.

I was very skeptical in elementary school when the idea of boundless entities was introduced. I felt duped. We had been given strict confines within which to think, starting from 0 when counting, for example, before the remainder of the number line, extending indefinitely in either direction, was abruptly unveiled.

Color is the one of the only ways I’ve been able to grasp and trust this notion of infinite possibility. No matter how much time goes by, we never run out of colors. It’s the closest I’ve come to the absence of limits…and one of the ways I’ve built the faith to push myself beyond them.

- amelia simone

As hard as it was to lose tug of war,
it was never much better to win.
Two sides pulled opposite directions,
held up only with equal force.
Tough rope tore at tender skin,
winners and losers both hit the floor.
One side dragged upon defeat,
but the victors still fell backwards.
I never saw lessons in brutal games,
but now, looking back, it’s clear.
Even the ones with the final yank
can’t escape with unbattered palms.

- amelia simone

April 1, 2015

Poetry defies words.
It comes to life not through,
but in spite of them.
It surveys language’s subterrane,
hides in the cracks of vocabulary,
and gracefully dances between terms.
The poet speaks the unspeakable.
She does with language
what the sculptor does with marble -
sees life inside rigid slabs,
hacks and chisels with gentle precision,
and patiently shapes stones into figures.

- amelia simone

Black Thought in an Ivory Tower

In the halls of ivy,
some things go unsaid.
If only the hush made them cease.
Instead, they maneuver subtly,
like silent killers.

Once, we discussed radiation,
how it can poison
quietly, gradually, invisibly.
The professor asked,
“Can you imagine being erased slowly, day by day, in a million tiny instances that escape recognition?”

It was oddly validating to know,
other silent wars are waged
besides the daily barrage
on the skin I’m in.

- amelia simone

A tomorrow beyond yesterday
requires wild imagination,
but we master restraining gifts
for survival of the present.

We’re writing it today,
but we’re not all taking note -
someday youth will ask our role
in the History of the Future.

- amelia simone

(If you were writing a book titled, The History of the Future, how would it unfold?)

Smoke and Mirrors

Day parties filled with puffs,
twerk teams and punks with Afros. 
Naked Black women everywhere,
“Black is sooo beautiful, right?”

Bodies swingin’ and swayin’,
to the rhythm of the trap (song).
Our sponsors fill cups for free,
to keep the party goin’.

The record scratches as we halt,
at the news of our latest fallen.
Next event, with distressed denim,
we’ll wear him on our shirts.

- amelia simone

My fascination with travel started at a young age. I still remember the first time my mom deposited us “down south” for the summer. Of all the unanticipated elements of culture shock, the one I truly was not prepared for was foreign language. The first time my cousin declared that she was “finna” go to the pool, I honestly thought she had a stutter of some sort and politely ignored it. Upon realizing that this term preceded all verbs, I had to acknowledge that I was a stranger in a strange place. A place where people weren’t “about to”, they were “fixin’ to”. A place where the bike path never stopped and the street lights didn’t call you home.

Looking back, this early experience was formative. I’ve heard it said that “black Americans don’t travel”. Recent marketing campaigns even invite us to disprove this by hopping on a plane. However, in a world filled with pockets of variety in every square mile, one has to seriously ask what counts? Almost every child in my neighborhood went South at some point in summer. (I’m pretty sure most of us had a brief period of thinking that “down south” was an actual place.) Although these excursions to Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, etc, were not spoken of with the esteem of the “gap year” of more privileged groups, I’m convinced they taught comparable lessons. The backpack through Europe, the summer on safari, or the meditation retreat in South Asia are seen as worth writing home about, ostensibly because of their exotic nature, but I’d argue that one can circumnavigate the globe without truly leaving the comfort zone. The critical aspects of travel - immersion in unfamiliarity, disorientation, deep listening and deep looking, shifting perspectives - might be just as easily experienced on a trip to the other side of town. My travels below the Mason-Dixon Line as a kid from northeastern surburbia widened my perspective more than standing atop the Eiffel Tower or snapping photos in front of the Colosseum.

How far does one have to travel to see the world?

- amelia simone


He stares into the vanity
searching for validation.
When met with traces of doubt,
he covers with ostentation.
Impeccable features beautiful frame
each day she refreshes her mask.
Is she the fairest one of all?
She doesn’t have to ask.
The daily tally of likes and hits
are evidence of appeal.
At times they show a little skin
to keep insecurities concealed.
Constantly gazing into the glass
to pose for all who admire.
More reflection, to avoid reflecting,
attention is what’s required.
This is the age of displaying worth
by offering our faces for booking.
Private self for public consumption;
do we exist when no one’s looking?

- amelia simone

White dresses
Are blank slates
Unsoiled surfaces
Endless possibilities.

White dresses
Are first times
Curiosity piqued
Brinks of discovery.

White dresses
Are nostalgia
For innocence lost
Yearnings for simplicity.

White dresses
Are flashbacks
To our yesterdays -
Real and imagined.

- amelia simone

P.S. A stolen moment from many moons ago, the first and only time I wore this particular white dress.