Poetry - Rhonda Nelson

Born in Miami, Florida Rhonda J. Nelson moved to Tampa when she was two. As a poet and singer she has published a multitude of work in both literary journals and as e-book collections, The Undertow (Rattapallax Press, 2001) and Shadows & Light (Tampa Bay Review Press, 1991). Her poetry has been published in Slipstream, The Panhandler, Survivor Magazine, Asheville Review, Apalachee Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Book up Hope, The Dexter Review, New College, and Sandhill Review.

After a four-year career as a professional singer Nelson attended the University of South Florida, graduating with a degree in journalism. She is the winner of the Writer's Exchange 2000, sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc as well as a two-time recipient of the Hillsborough County Arts Council Emerging Artist award and the recipient of the Hillsborough County Arts Council Individual Artist Award. From 2000 to 2001 she was a Florida Fellow in Poetry. In 2004 her collection Musical Chair was Anhinga Press' selection for the Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series.

Currently Nelson is the poet and artistic director for Irritable Tribe of Poets, a spoken word, fusion jazz band with an improvisational style that mixes jazz, rock and funk with original poetry. In a solo project Nelson has developed a CD with twelve individual pieces inspired by the life and art of Frida Kahlo.

Streetcar Wishes

By Rhonda J. Nelson

From Ybor City to the channel,
and such sweet promises in between,
the way the red and yellow car glides down the rail,
may her hand always slide into his.

The way the trolley connects neighborhoods,
may the dove hold their rings as a constant
between their two worlds.
Between east and west, between hymns and alliances.

May this immaculate, amorous wish
remain a riding memory, pure as music,
anytime anyone tells them anything.

Extinct (excerpt from Inlet)

By Rhonda J. Nelson

Sometimes when the moon is full
I feel her pull me away from shore.
In the warm, dark night
the seed of me roots in the depth

of her absence. Low tide.
Illusion moving out beyond the eddies.
I can't see her fin, yet can't keep her
image from evaporating at sunrise.

And I want nothing more
than to ask, Where ya' been? What took you
so long to come home?


By Rhonda J. Nelson

Daylight floats, swells the clouds,
rain falls on the river.
Solitary sea cow with singular calf,
slow dancing, peaceful manatees.

Paddle-tailed mermaids,
drifting like slow motion film,
graze the shallows.
Mangrove leaves and Turtle grass.

The same lyric
for forty five million years.


By Rhonda J. Nelson

The water wants to play piano
But its fingers are tributaries
Wants to play harp
But capillaries fill with rain
Humidity sticks to the treble clef
Bass clef hides behind a silver cloud, howling
The earth crawls under its star blanket
And listens for what comes next