Sandra Simonds
Poetry is Stupid and I Want to Die

The one trick I’ve always fallen back on is to make a man think

he’s the one rejecting me 

But it was so quiet in your room 

even if you had horrible books written by evil men 

at your bedside and in your possession that deep desire

to hurt and thus in my head scrambling between kissing you

and trying to maneuver how I would leave unharmed 

the way a woman has to manipulate both mind and body

I dreamed I was in a car and a man hit me over the head 

Please don’t tell me the story of the graduate student

who put a mouse in her freezer just to “see what would happen”

It was quiet though if even for a moment I drive around Tallahassee

to find one quiet place The way I love you is not as a sheriff 

searches for a walnut it’s more violent and I can’t stay in the moment

of this poem long enough for the feeling to unfold I owe the 

therapist $80 The woman wearing a fur coat with her six kids on a leash

who showed up to the South Georgia poetry reading in her stretchy jeans

I was proud to have been the host to that

the way one might write a hallelujah ode to a black hole 

with roses and tulips shooting out of it Oh the grotesquerie


John Keats, you don’t have to say “mother” anymore

This is my quietness, I am the bride and also the urn

And you are my foster child as I make you sit here

And listen to my prayers are sweeter than any rhyme

Sprouting out of a dog’s skull the beautiful bud on the cold stone 


When Walter Benjamin is all high on hashish, that’s when

he finally understands Poe or the lazy grass that grows along

this lake that fakes every orgasm 

and takes delight through deception 

Take these irretrievable zones of stupidity 

which are the little wings that grow at the end of my smile

which is I don’t know Zumba? Power yoga? Smoothies? Breakdancing?

The anthropocene is a disease that effects the heart 

lung machine is tripping on the setting day dazed like the end of disco 

I know how to waste the mellow hour glides like a swan 


Into the future (goodbye future) turns into swans gliding 

across the ice in Florida Some cursive tongues or calligraphy made

of pure value the mood descending like soft rains in the tropics

Every day is the dream of the desiccated Virgin Mary’s head

who hovers above my body to mock the lush plants to 

capture the line vanishing, the threshold vanishing, the apartment


vanishing, to connect one vanishing point

with another, how deeply one delves

into each side of the moment, how deeply the sentence

turns into the café, the spirit world, a loud, drunken

discussion about politics or the aversion to certain

foods, farewell, material I have plunged into it

and the spirit world splashes around my form so how

can I resist the demons who insist I seem to be so much

their semblance? The red walls of ice 


lasted about an hour falling from the sky my son said, “That is

weird. I have never seen that before.” It is the end of 

the pterosaurs, the end of machines, the end of marching

bands and particle accelerators, it is the end of Diet

Coke, the end of chai tea, or darjeeling and the lavender

calming aromatherapy mist (for room and body)


Day is already what is in the wake of the irretrievable 

and for what, Horatio? Cones, pyramids, squares, bricks of pills or

the sunset breaking harsher and, in more elegiac

tones, in crude relief like monotone

set against monotone or the beautiful silk dresses 

flowing in the sugar-scented air that you wore

in Paris with your cousins eating ice cream

along the banks of the Seine you were already crashing

straight into my history of days swelling like a bad book

thrown into dirty water and you knew it even though

it was smudged like the dream of carbon breaking into 

fossils, ideology and the smell of fat roots in the forest


 The relief is so transient 

Get me out of here! But I felt faint or weak

or without the will or without the hope

because beauty does this to her sufferers 

and she makes a kind of lucid Maserati of the heavens 

The mock-heroic event horizon Maybe I’m the ruthless

one, the bad character in one of those novels by your beside,

the one who lies and cheats and steals but there’s no way to say

for sure honey when you’re given so little

  of the plot and all the other

characters are probably very seedy but stay silent (at least for now)

  as if we are all in the middle of a large body

of signals a silence of aqua that has these high

pitched sounds like metallic birds perforating in rings  of cloud 


Think about it 

We could be sitting in a coffee shop drinking tea and holding back

our life stories Each history a long stay in the spiral staircases

of libraries and burnt gardens 

I can’t imagine why anyone would feel the desire to hurt a woman

who thinks about suicide every day


But hey the lines are drawn and so are the curtains 

This lake is much more than an acquaintance 

Maybe the way pain in public is so

demonstrative and  humiliating and also so

affectionate and giving turning our cells 

into mere technology so that there’s only

ever some superficial layer of the epithetical light 


I like the feeling of not crying

But still wanting to cry and holding back the tears

It’s like prolonging the orgasm 

Some tantric impulse to the comets 

To burn some incense because it is Saturday 

and the house is cool and calm and quiet like a plant 


I like the build-up the way it’s like a short story or maybe

Short stories are like the breasts when they are hard

and full of milk and the baby is never gentle what he wants 

and the sore nipple is also not gentle

with her giving 

I don’t understand how anyone could have abandoned you,

Much less your mother and for what?

To have made you this creature forever stalking  

the evil light of a pool of blood fixating on the ring of flowers 

at the bottom as if that

 ring could bring you back your mother or 

a narrative that made sense “It’s no real pleasure

in life” as one might scroll endlessly through a picture gallery of flowers:


anemone, autumn joy, allium and to imagine that

there are 25 other letters of these ready to be planted,

the apple blossoms or azalea, and none of this you

recognize the Virgin Mary’s desiccated, sepia-toned

eyes floating so close to you trying to find the water 

to feed the plants so that they might bloom into the

the lush forms of volition the complete face of

 compassion we must feel for our enemies which is why


I don’t even understand why anyone would 

abandon anyone in our cold pastoral of rain and art 

still I would hold on to you until

our ship took down the stage set and the anthropcene 

gets all shot up like a gas station the way we watched Martha,

Andy’s mom on TV “And I looked down 

and I realized it was his liver”

And Andy and I laughed at the way his mother said

this but how awful is it really, a trained nurse,

Just getting some gas and coffee and then the whole

thing descends into a wet liver on the horrible tiles

of a CONOCO station in New Orleans, so now I wonder


about Jason, the geologist, who kept threatening

to kill himself and no one cared

until he went to Billings for work and got black

out drink and shot a woman for no 

reason he said “Look at what you made me do!”

which is what they all say “From Florida, he had few ties

to the Billings area” “Some things

have no reason and that’s why they are so hard

to understand” “How did you get away?”

“I can’t say for sure” “It’s kind of a blur” “I endured

It” “I gave him what he wanted”

“I was very afraid” “I knew he could kill” 

“I promised that he would get something later”

because every story from

 the South has to end with some theft

and betrayal and if it’s a romance like I’m sure this one is

even though it is unthinkable to say so 

the moon will take the shape of the face of that disaster

looking back on itself in disbelief

Found In Volume 43, No. 05
Read Issue
  • sandra simonds
Sandra Simonds
About the Author

Sandra Simonds is the author of four books of poetry: 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,  Chicago ReviewGrantaBoston ReviewPloughsharesFenceCourt Green, and Lana Turner. Her fifth book, Further Problems with Pleasure, is the winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Akron Press.