Issue 28 – Summer 2017 – Sandra Simonds

Sandra Simonds


from “Atopia”

My friend made a song called, “Nikki, the Sun is Out
and I am Sick” to the sound of water dripping down the walls
of this satanic church, the blinds are drawn, the heat
is a low, orgasmic voice, the YouTube video in which a woman
teaches me how to make miniature succulents, cut out the tiny
mellow, leaves using colored polymer clays, Nikki, the sun is out
and the song is dusted with pigment from my eyes shoved 
through the apex of my body as a man walks down the street 
carrying the Seine under his blue and white umbrella, the low 
wail of these church walls simmering, the maker’s mind abandoned 
in the pond, the koi fish in the pond dead from exposure, their scales
are grins, and we all exist now in the darkest night of Atlanta 
and forever we will stay here in Atlanta’s terrible catacombs,
this song has no  words, instead, it’s a vision of a girl who slowly turns 
her head around to stare at you and when she does, you fly back against
the church’s walls dripping with blue liquid and the only thing you
feel is that you want to escape but you can’t because you are locked
in that deepest part of the Atlanta night like being sick and wanting
to emerge from the flesh a bird, wanting to emerge from scars
as incantation but now Nikki, the song is the grave we stumble into
and since the sun is out  and you are sick, you lie in the grave and you 
look at the sun through this sick hole and there’s nothing you can do because
you’re immobile but the birds they fly past you and the cars they drive by
and the men who walk down the street carrying black umbrellas
continue to do so and Nikki, your body is skinny and won’t last,
and my body is skinny and won’t last and even if we make love to each other,
we are nothing against the things that pass us, oh we are nothing against them.


Blue machine of midwinter, I am tired of making things:
        making love, making art, making sense, making do
           but how beautiful you seem to me
        from this window 
of trouble and sorrow 
How beautiful you glow in my heart
            which is only one cell large 
dangling from the window

Blue machine of midwinter, I am at one with you
            as you revolve with your wheat fields 
and your electronics 
         and your human microcosm

If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to fall asleep
         against your body  and tell you the story of my life

How things were indistinctly hard, how often
                    I cried at night, alone, to myself, 
Oh how embarrassing it was, Oh 
            how often, in August
I would get out of bed 
             to look at the bats
darting around the sky, how often I cried
 into the green, green, river

And how I wanted only you, your mechanics,
                  your cold skin, but it wasn’t meant to be,
                   you were simply an illusion, a ghost

from another season. How sad you look.
                 How pulled apart, broken and torn up.

Ah but this is life, my friend.
We don’t have to always tell the exact stories
                 for people to remember them.



Sandra Simonds is the author of six books of poetry: Orlando, (Wave Books, forthcoming in 2018), Further Problems with Pleasure, winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize and forthcoming from the University of Akron Press, Steal It Back (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems have been included in the Best American Poetry 2015 and 2014 and have appeared in many literary journals, including Poetry, the American Poetry Review, the Chicago ReviewGrantaBoston Review,  PloughsharesFenceCourt Green, and Lana Turner. In 2013, she won a Readers’ Choice Award for her sonnet “Red Wand,” which was published on, the Academy of American Poets website. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida and is an Associate professor of English and Humanities at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia.