• The Omega Issue

    Tika Simone

    The Omega Issue
    Tika header

    The Grapevine Telegraph

    Tika Simone, Interview + 2 Poems

    Where do you consider home?

    I grew up in two houses 2,000 miles apart. One, a lopsided sage green A-frame near a large mountain lake, the other a falling-apart row house, a survivor of the Chicago fire. Because of this split I experience home as swimming with my mom, eating food that my dad cooked, the smell of pasta and incense, and rice milk with puffins. I recently moved to Atlanta with the hopes of finally living in one place for more than two years.

    Did you grow up with poems, or something like them?

    Most mornings of my childhood began with my dad jumping on my bed and reciting “Wake lass wake/ Wake the silver dusk returning/ Up the beach of darkness brims/ And the ship of sunrise burning/ Strands upon the eastern rims.” A somewhat misquoted poem by A.E. Housman that his father would wake him up with as a child. At night he would read me Franny and Zooey and poems by Rumi. My mom would say things like ‘simply divine’ and ‘darn it to murgatroyd’. We listened to a lot of Motown and Folk Music, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin, and Smokey Robinson who Bob Dylan once said was the greatest poet of the 20th Century.

    Which poets are important to read?

    Lucille Clifton. Aracelis Girmay. Ross Gay. Robin Coste-Lewis. Claudia Rankine. Amiri Baraka. Diane Di Prima. Tongo Eisen-Martin. Adrienne Rich. Ariana Reines. Natalie Diaz. Solmaz Sharif. Joy Harjo. Anne Carson. Anne Boyer. Bhanu Kapil. Emma Weed. Nora Claire Miller. June Jordan. Las Mujeres Zapatistas. Eduardo Galeano. Audre Lorde. Saidiya Hartman. Seymour Glass.

    How does travel affect your writing?

    Helene Cixous (a writer/poet that I admire) wakes up with the sun and sits down at her large writing table covered with various sizes of paper and writing utensils where she writes for 8-10 hours. “I write like a painter”, “like a marathon runner”, “endlessly, for weeks.” Sometimes I blame traveling for the fact that I do not write like this, that I do not have this writing canvass/track. I wonder, if I stayed in one place and traveled less, would my writing be more precise and grounded in detail? Could I slow down and see things up close and clearly? Is the abstract blur of my writing a result of my constant travel? I ask myself these questions, but of course I continue to roam.

    One mass-produced item to keep after the collapse of civilization

    Tofutti Cuties


    steel seduced me to America
    a drive through
    a graveyard
    I came from a village
    where we cut down trees
    and grew potatoes
    from the pale to a land
    that is also only floating

    alone I came
    to fall in love in America
    I thought about being a painter
    how that freedom would feel in my body
    I thought about being
    a flat chested painter boy
    I thought about moshing
    the singular sound of a skateboard
    teasing an untenable body
    sucking up four generations of noses
    and pores on those noses
    sucking up soups
    steel magnets a family to America
    most of them painters
    most of them dead

    in a city in America
    a car rolls up beside a fearful body
    the sidewalks stare like
    could be corpses
    to rescue hope from the political
    an everywhere I go sort of poem
    at the pool hall
    cigar peddlers
    crawl space
    I meet you

    the ceilings here
    have no stars
    you said
    building a world
    is worth
    the slow torture
    of courage
    I said
    if this is all
    just a movie
    tell me what
    is the screen
    rolling grass grows on a breathing wound
    to where
    would we return
    if returning was possible

    something has damaged the roof of my mind
    wisdom keeps leaking in
    and rotting me
    tall grasses to hide
    from which eyes
    meet the sky
    where the daring moon hovers over a nothingness
    till midnight writes sonnets across my back
    astonishment a face streaked with tear
    a blue body
    a smoke shrine
    a silence
    I can’t stop shining for you I won’t stop
    asking of you how to love like everything
    how to hurt and give like everything but
    turning the gag into words is at least
    something to do turning the gag into
    words is at least something to do words are
    at least something

    see love is endless and breakless
    and this pain is illusion but
    that which consciousness assumes itself to
    be it becomes

    lately I am teaching myself mistake
    by mistake how not to lie
    in casual conversation
    I floated down the porch steps tonight
    all my homemaking in two trader joes bags
    one in each hand my feet were
    so automatic
    they were smoke
    the car door shut me in and non
    experience poured from every nostril
    that I had become
    see death is nighttime in the country
    alone in a black car
    I don’t love you anymore

    still something sits in our throat
    sheds skins to be swallowed
    choked up
    broken apart with trembling fingers
    and then the river stops


    today the lilacs begin to bloom
    I drink them in
    and sleep on summer sheets
    I once told him they were my
    favorite flowers
    he forgot while I held a bouquet of them
    up to his face
    in the back of hanks truck
    we laid in mulch
    played imposters
    ate midnight pancakes

    I guess I write to remember
    sleep to forget
    the way it felt like to lay on cahokia
    a pyramid made of dirt
    back body phantom feeling
    words to remember
    that cities like creatures always die
    that corpses feel almost solid
    that his skin turned
    blue within minutes
    that the light of a thousand cars
    & everything on this earth is
    of this earth

    did we build cities so we could
    live among the stars
    smoke cigarettes
    so we could see breath
    leaving the body
    sanity is a photograph sliced open
    bloody frozen fish
    on the bottom of an orange bucket
    left out in the storm

    I’ve been noticing lately
    when I say last year I mean two
    one night you lit the candle
    kept crawling closer
    we were wool
    I was ancient
    in the shtetl
    my head in your lap and your head
    in the window
    a dusky deciduous april
    holding us still

    but lovers and grandparents die
    and I’m dizzy most every time I stand up
    and I’m trying so hard to remember
    and I used to sleep a lot
    to forget you
    the black night you came back from texas
    it felt so good it made me cry
    in my car
    driving past the pelham puddle
    how I wished I could touch anything
    in that same thoughtless
    honest way
    no one has ever touched my body
    the way that you are

    in a city far away
    in another silver car
    I lay my back into the seat
    they are many
    the birds on the wire
    which means they have many more
    of each other
    than we do

    Tika Simone loves beauty, truth, and sensual specificity including but not limited to: delicious tastes, spiritual vistas, skin tickling, naked swims in cold water, and deep sleeps with sweet dreams. A second generation class traitor, Tika has committed their life to the revolution. This mostly involves collective manifesting of a world in which many worlds fit. They graduated from Hampshire College in 2016 and quickly joined Youths Against Kareerism, a lifestyle program that has proved both difficult and infinitely fulfilling. They gently suggest you join as well!

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