I’m a witch who lost all her powers, then
   in place of my powers, I got the coiled beauty
of seashells and sleeping infants. The coiled
beauty of eardrums, and the sound wave
of bells. The bells! This is the country of clouds.
       The molten body, the Floridian pinks,
       and centuries of sand dollars examining
the arcing waves. New territory
of interiority and I’m in the middle of this.
   White like a negative belt.
I am an airless thing. When I get high, I get low.
           But I’m real and airless and love you.

More by Sandra Simonds

Red Wand

Sometimes I try to make poetry but mostly 
    I try to earn a living. There's something still living
 in every urn, I am sure of it. The ash moves 
       around inside the vase like the magnetic filings that make 
the moustache of Wooly Willy. Maybe a new face counts 
      as reincarnation. The wand says, "I'll be your ostrich,
 if you'll be my swan." In this life, what did I do wrong?  
I think my heart is a magnet too. It attracts anything
 that attracts joy like the summer grasses the swans track through. 
       OMG, how in love I am with joy and with yours—how I know 
that adding to it would only take it further off course, 
      off its precarious center, so for once, I won't touch it.
 I will stand wand-length away—let it 
    glide stupidly on its weightless line, without me.

Ode to Country Music

If I wasn't such a deadbeat, I'd learn Greek.
    I wouldn't write sonnets; I'd write epics
and odes. I'd love a man who was
    acceptable and conformed to every code.
I'd put together my desk and write my epic or ode
    at sunset over my suburb. How I would love my shrubs!
But all I do is listen to country (and the occasional Joni)
    and smoke. Judge me judge me
judge me. Oh I've been through the shallows.
    I shallow. I hope. I hole. I know
I wrote you the most brutal love poem that knows.

You Can't Build a Child

with the medicinal poppies of June
nor with Celan's bloom-fest of dredged stone,
      not with history's choo-choo train of corpses,
    not with Nottingham's Robin Hood
            nor Antwerp's Diamondland.

Not walking on the Strand in Manhattan Beach with her
       silicone breast implants, refinery, waves of trash,
        not out of the Library of Alexandria
            with her burnt gardens that prefigure gnarly,
        barnacle-laden surfboards broken in half.

You can't build the child with the stone paths
        that we have walked on through the atmosphere,
            the pirate's plank, the diving board, the plunge,
          nor with the moon whether
                she be zombie or vampire.
        Not with Delphi, not with fangs, or cardamom bought
                in Fez, red with spring, red with
                    marathon running cheeks.

            Not with monk chant, bomb chant,
        war paint, not with the gigantic Zen pleasure zones,
                nor with this harnessed pig
        on the carousel that I am sitting on with my son
                in Nice, France. How it burns on its axis
            as if it were turning into pineapple-colored kerosene
        the way the Hawaiian pig, apple in snout, roasts
           in its own tropical meat under the countdown sun.

Related Poems

Self-Portrait as Artemis

It wasn’t long before I rose
into the silk of my night-robes

and swilled the stars
and the beetles

back into sweetness—even my fingernails
carry my likeness, and I smudge

the marrow of myself
into light. I whisper street-

car, ardor, midnight
into the ears of the soldier

so he will forget everything
but the eyes of the night nurse

whose hair shines beneath
the prow of her white cap.

In the end, it is me
he shipwrecks. O arrow.

My arms knot as I pluck
the lone string tauter.

O crossbow. I kneel. He oozes,
and the grasses and red wasp

knock him back from my sight.
The night braids my hair.

I do not dream. I do not glow.