Sharrif Simmons photo: Marie Thomas
Inspired by Deanna Sirlin’s Any Day Now
What sound is thrumming in these colors,
I hear through my eyes
Inspired by blue strokes,
Imagining moments to come,
Anticipating the next layer,
The warm yellow,
Streaking across the middle,
Like a slow melody,
Moving my fingers over steel strings.
The static image resonates with music,
A sound I know.
Orange arrives like new sunlight,
At the base of the frame,
A sudden horizon,
Rising through dark lines, reappearing at its peak, completing a cycle of days.
What we don't see is all there,
Just out of sight,
A palette of colors,
Wet brushes, dipped in acrylic, moving across blank spaces,
Illustrating urgent marks, placed perfectly where they belong.
It all feels pressing, a warning in bright colors,
Arriving as melody on my guitar.
What is her warning?
Maybe the weather
Maybe the economy
Maybe the collapse of democracy,
The stolen legacies, the war, the racism, the inequality.
Or maybe, it’s the hope change will arrive,
Any Day Now.
Deanna Sirlin, Any Day Now, 2022,Acrylic on canvas,14 x 11 inches
Sharrif Simmons is a performance artist, author, songwriter, musician, poet and arts educator. His writing career spans three decades. His education as a poet started at U.C.L.A. (University on the Corner of Lenox Avenue) at the famed Liberation Bookstore on 131st St. & Lenox in Harlem, New York. Founded by his Grand Aunt, Una Mulzac, the bookstore served the Harlem community for over 35 years. Poetry chose him the night he witnessed Sonia Sanchez read at the Schomburg Center for Black Research on 135th St. and Lenox Avenue.
Simmons became a staple of New York's cultural renaissance in the 1990’s. Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Cooler, CBGB's, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Joe’s Pub and NYC’s Summerstage were some of the venues and stages where he performed his unique form of music and poetry. In 2005 he became a Def Poet on season 5 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam with his poem “Fuck what you heard!” Sharrif is often referred to as his generation’s Gil Scott-Heron. His musical influences range from Richie Havens, Bill Withers, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix to Rage against the Machine, Parliament Funkadelic, Old Dirty Bastard and Biggie Smalls. He’s toured Europe and the United States playing poetry and music for college campuses, festivals and spoken word conferences.
His first collection of poems, "Fast Cities and Objects That Burn" was published by poet Jessica Care Moore (out of print). His latest collection of poetry, Clearly Spoken, Spoken Clearly, is available on Amazon.