Six from Atopiaby Sandra Simonds
Speculative cobwebs embroidered with flowers
back in the love garden of eternal truth, I am as unhurried
as the smallest
creature left to revel in its own zigzag.
Take the fucking wine away! Its red center,
the Saturns of my splendor and my emotional
landscape is cured for a day or a daydream is turned
into the vicious news cycle reeling in pain
Destroy my body, take away the wine and the drugs
and the centers of my thinking
so naked before you
Take away the music and the car and the job,
take away the riddle of my body
There is nothing mysterious to do here:
I am just nipples and goosebumps
The madness set in as coral reefs bleached
This debt in my hands will you take the rings?
One word would set me off into the dust murmurs
of my own soul rains barreling down a lifetime of traumas
“I may not get better” I told you nature is violent and I am too
What badness of men, miserable men at the computer
was never going to solve our strings, simple as corrugated dream
Nothing practical in my iambs or slang will save me from
the unnerving 666 can you handle this?
Give me vitamins! Give me some old operatic feelings
like the long sequestered loves I have shot into my chest
Spring proliferation of rain and cops.
National Weather Service alert.
What would they say
If they knew I spent all day making a cake
shaped like a school bus from a 1970s
cookbook I found on a walk?
Passages of production. Touch them.
Sudden drop in the metallic temperature.
Today, I’m glad to be my salary.
Forget me not.
There were so many services.
The department of homeland security
SUV I trailed from Tallahassee all
the way to South Georgia turned off
a dirt road on Spring Hill. Whatever
in the fuck? No way to know
which hyper cosmic abyss they
sucked on, spit up. Fatal slope
of magnolia blossoms
inside the controlled burns. I look up
from the abandoned Sunnyside
Convenience Center parking lot,
a burnt palm leans against a wood
electricity pole and I’m a monk.
The drugstore here sold such cheap
elixirs once. I wish to spend
my life sealed off these structures of surveillance.
The lion or a grafted tree
as a sign of fertility, I gazed upon the tenure
of my feed where fake news doubled
with espresso and the media
was like some sort of mediation
we are all so famous now
we are all so famous
that death is made ridiculous
look at you death, how ridiculous you are
with your freakish body,
whoring yourself out like that.
Inside encrypted eternity robots store my rosy data
They say I have healing powers and this morning like a wave
I hail the glory of the jolie wolf the Irish Elk depicted in the 19th
century lithography Oh kiss me This is why I don’t believe in hell
other than the theory of Iceland I made up in my bathtub
which involves the middle and upper classes on vacation where
they don’t have to see or feel this lush C02 overgrowth the die offs
Goodbye, long-spined sea urchin washed up in that glossy red tide
I’m on a tour of the magenta volcano that blows money and ash
the surface ice-slick with both debt and credit In this epic
an industry springs up around the poet who has not been able to read
quietly in years I confess I wanted things to be perfectly acute
and in that chrysalis like nuclear energy these worlds
shoved into containers always exploded blood from the mouth and nose
I owe the library my sorcery Return the Egyptian Book of the Dead
but I cannot eat my abominations under these palm trees
Happy is the corpse that the rain rains on!
How these fronds are so bewitching like Gregorian chants
but I know autumn comes despite monophonic grief on a boat
which also carries red grains of beer Hail, guardian of the door
I have made my offering Now, give us peace
In dreams death is not a passport There’s no transportation
No River Styx No coming or going “No guide,” I said
Not the light from an open book in a room of ancient libations
Nor the marble-vaulted Kropotkinskaia Metro Station Not the architecture
of the vernacular Not these preparations for the apocalypse
Oh falcon-headed god who guards the river is that your tiny house
built on the edge of the empire with my ten dollar donation to
St. Francis Wildlife Association in exchange for eclipse glasses permafrost
thawing on the sun death is merely a body cut in half by a machine:
sometimes a car or factory wheel, sometimes a knife or cult
But mostly it is the body cut in half by the eyes There’s so much
we don’t know Helen killed by a Nazi in Charlottesville
on August 12, 2017 the day I turn forty No blood in the spring
no blood on the shore the eclipse brought on my period
There was a wolf at my door My father importer of exotic fruits
I stripped off my tunic renounced my income The protesters
were a wave If ever birds land on your shoulders and you renounce
this mercantile life the shadows elongated the screen hurt my eyes
On the bank stood that lone Belted Kingfisher on the bank
of the vernacular on the bank of the flesh with a fish
glinting in its beak please speak like a piece of god
Permission slip signed for kids to see the eclipse
Now let us monetize our agonized sensorium
Don’t drain yourself today of what you need
A sequence of scenes Charlotte and I on the beach
The beach is fake made of salt elderly people
line themselves to touch the salt cliffs with their naked
bodies as if this were a shrine Charlotte gets a sunburn
in minutes passes out hits her eye it swells
she’s still a toddler a bunch of people gather around
a huge jewel encrusted moth flying in slow motion
by the salt cliff the moth lands on the hand of a woman
The sky fills with chickadees each one weighs 11 grams
People take their selfies with the dream moth alongside
the dream sea and the dream beach and the dream vermin
There is no future for us here Who will read this?
It is not a climate worth living in I have brought children
into it I have sacrificed nothing There was not enough free time
to accomplish our political goals I have gone online to read an article
interpreting what the moth means It is not good
I believe the interpretation It’s a scholarly paper
The chickadee and moth disintegrate before me Our lands jolie
Sandra Simonds is the author of six books of poetry: Orlando, (Wave Books, 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 (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). She lives in Tallahassee, Florida and is an Associate professor of English and Humanities at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia.