Night is the insane asylum of plants
Everyone dreams of the apocalypse, they are barfing
into their grief but I, love, dream of you, and I am old enough
to know this is not the apocalypse, and I am well-read
enough to know that all of this was set in motion a long
time ago, plummet of sea shells, the visions loud,
obnoxious even, yes, I tried to ignore them, but to no avail,
the dead workers streamed through my body, out my finger
tips toward the moon’s underlying reality, trumps, keys,
some moved into hysteria then collapsed or perhaps
saw a vision of souls surround black clouds and layers
of breath, to close one’s mind to extraneous events,
life streaming from chambers, music as event and so,
love, I entered the scene before me, as many poets
have walked through the gates, of the imaginative space
I had to create, I like, Dante, Milton, Plath, Hughes
left the body, left the comfort and pain of the body,
and entered the inferno, I entered on the day
of the Oakland fire, when 36 lives were lost,
one life for each year of my life and put my head to
my knees, whispered, chanted, sang, suggested,
ripped up the text of my hair, the alephs of my hair,
my long black hair is a text and I will not cut it,
and the warehouse went up in its mass, and the body
politic bled down, the dead queers, dead artists, crisscross,
crisis of landlords and evictions, midwinter, I left
this body behind, I had to see, I had to see what
was behind the mirror’s arrangement
of energy, had to see through this parabola.
“It was a beautiful spring day,”
which is how every horror story begins.
Then lighting struck the wing of my plane
and the light streaked into the hymn
forthcoming, a gothic hymn to jettison
by the River Jordan like the wrapper
around a roast beef sandwich.
The next day, walked to CVS to buy
nail polish, full of those spirits, bent over
the colors, had a nosebleed like in the movies
when everything’s too much for the psychic
and utterly convinced some of the lighting
got stuck inside the cauldron of my head,
and trying to get out of myself, I bled.
Look at the people we have on our side:
Walter Benjamin is on our side
Hannah Arendt is on our side
James Baldwin is on our side
Sandra, they are all dead
They are on our side, Sandra
The other people
the capitalists, who do they have?
They don’t have anyone
All of their ideas are shit
Listen, we have Brecht
I was going crazy
I picked up my phone
I was talking to Maged
Maged is moving from Seattle to
Atlanta to be closer to his son
I dream of the New Jerusalem of love,
an Eden of sparks from the mouth of the rose cult.
The rooster of Midtown cockadoodledoos,
crest shivers Floridian, last bit of cold
in these parts, I am a bold-hearted one.
Tallahassee on the “Dead Mall” wiki page,
stock market up, earth crash, crypto-mining
the numeral seven like godhead’s delight.
I smoke and ask my neighbor what he would do
if the government had him on a list of dissidents.
Demon of the windstorm, demon of talons and beaks,
I know you hear everything I sing, two children
huddled together, under the moon,
baby falling from a chariot, of wolf-light.
What do we make of him? Wander the earth
in search of your brother; brother, what would you do?
And something stupid takes over him,
“Well we are all on a list anyway,” as he slides into
his drunkenness, restoration of the neo-Nazi’s
Twitter account and a 2pm consciousness-raising
session, I wish I was high instead of my body
dragging itself to another action.
First National Women’s Liberation meeting
in Tallahassee, but now I’m drunk, high and smoking
a ton of cigarettes with my neighbor, the one
who saved me from Hurricane Whatever’s 3am rainwater
pouring through the wolf eyed tree holes of the ceiling—
then a MRSA infection set in. No one knows
why a hurricane reddens
the night sky, no one knows why
the ER doc says, “It’s the dirty water.
It comes from farms, factories, collects
and then dumps down so, here is an IV antibiotic.”
Sat in the ER, cried but called no one,
emotions intensified like a Sabbath.
The handsome nurse talked
about surfing in Costa Rica while
my blood disinfected and outside
the hospital a Ouija board of plants
made a foreign language out of the night.
Man in neon coat walks uphill through the crows.
Reddish glow of the hurricane horizon
creeping towards the heart. Oldest woman
at the meeting talks about 1960 and 61.
“We were organized, we had an action.
They told us what to do and we did it,
then we’d go to jail and it was on to the next
action.” Woke up—eyes puffy as windmills.
Thought of Rotterdam. That fucking Irish poet
who didn’t ask if he could hold my hand,
just grabbed it on the teeth chattering bridge
and then yelled, “We are poets! We are here!”
right into the river. And we walked into the spaceship
I mean hotel and in my room I ordered
a panini and ate it on the white sheets, crumbs
on the white sheets. Mirrors everywhere.
Rotterdam, the last place I ever felt sexy.
I rise before everyone, kids at their dad’s.
No commotion, rivers of clearing
eucalyptus mist in the aura factory
like pictures of Norway, her glaciated
remove languishes in a think tank
of food security, how I want that kind of coldness,
to be surrounded by a swarm of bears
or love affair so north of here, but the winds
shoved into the stone mouths of lions,
their rhymes were tourniquets of counterfeit ideas.
And Rotterdam standing like an inquisition
of ships sloshing the metallic waters.
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 from the University of Akron Press, Steal It Back (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Blood Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Blood Books, 2009). Her poems have been published in the New York Times, The Best American Poetry 2015 and 2014 and have appeared in many literary journals, including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Chicago Review, Granta, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Fence, Court Green, and Lana Turner. In 2013, she won a Readers’ Choice Award for her Sonnet “Red Wand,” which was published on Poets.Org, 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.