American Cancer

July 17, 2015 § 1 Comment

We had just come to America,
found its hub, a shopping mall,
saw charms we just had to have.
My mother chose blue, for health.
“It’s just so…” My sister couldn’t find
the word.  She was five.  The word was

I wanted to say it.  At nine, I was
perfect.  My heart murmur had turned
into a rumor.  My colds got better, my
puking was just anxiety.  My genes seemed
stacked up nicely, in a clean row of
perfection.  One blonde, one blue,
one porcelain, all healthy.

We hated the charm.  It was ugly,
almost too fitting.  I hid it once, next
to her cigarettes, all broken in half,
in a drawer I assumed she never
opened.  Why not pick pink for love,
or green for serenity?  Blue for health.
It was repulsive.

I don’t know when she found it.
Maybe somewhere on the road
where she found Jesus, or somewhere
down the long hallway she crawled,
violently sick, crying as she pushed
open the bathroom door.  Maybe
she found it with the cigarettes,
packed them back together and gave
herself the cancer.

It turned up, later, fallen behind a
dresser.  Examining, I saw it
old, tarnished.  It had been cheap,
a fake.  Blue for health, a gross lie,
a greedy gross lie.  I dropped it
in the garbage can, and stuck two
bon-bons in my mouth.  Pink for
love, green for serenity.


The good thing

November 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

The reel-house on the water
she flies sullen
setting about her clairvoyance
Oh bella donna, Cassandra,
dark priestess!

In the last light she makes
her bath, singing,

She knows the impostor

Barge-boat professor, cyclist
in wings, alight your acolytes
share them the secret, grained
on the soles of your feet

You told her the devil
doesn’t know wit, but her
the behemoth rides to shore

Will this be the reckoning, she whispers
No, just a terrible accident, he replies

The phonograph rings in alarm,
the siren yawns,
a good man dies.


April 15, 2012 § 6 Comments

Tears on my face
like walls of scribbled marker
of a child
whose mother calls
from the other room
Stop that now, Jenny
or I’ll slap you silly!

The Things She Had

March 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

This one goes out to love. Forever yours, Jenny.

A hand in pocket laugh,
her eyes giving me over
the shoulder smolders, 
bruising track marks
down my neck, 
showing the 
trail of my addiction

She’s got me swept up
in night shades and 
vying for one delicate
fingerprint on my wrist,
the angle of her intersecting lips
printed on me in red and pink,
a passport filled with stamps

Catching the lilt of her breath
stuck in her chest,
knowing I’ve stopped the 
ticking tock,
counting the seconds till
her eyes are saucer wide,
and then closing like
the moon over the Black Sea
and then dying.


March 8, 2012 § 9 Comments

Then the moon washed over me
like a lighthouse ray, sweeping
over the land, searching,

and I was sitting in a subway train
but I felt its eyes on me, its
cheese nose smelling me out

and I was pulling my hair, my
fingers raking through silver strands
and I knew that it wanted the light back

but it was fastened to my scalp
and the darkness had drenched me
in a black liquid paint,

dripping down my face and as
I pulled my hands from my eyes, it
touched my fingers and I made

the sign of the cross on your shining
forehead, ashes to ashes, baptized
in a white, frowning fire because

the moon and dreams and dead skin
are all ash stinging my eyes
and there is no way out.

By Jennifer Simmons

The Collapse

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

He came home too soon,
stepped into the kitchen.  Pale as a sheet.
He collapsed to the floor, sobbing, saying
you were leaving, you were never coming back.
How could you love him this way?
You killed him.  You killed him.  My boy, my baby.
He was lying there, my child, my son.
Where is my son?
Where is my son?

 It is a strange thing when a
woman is drunk but her words are sober
and she is pleading and screaming 
and then there was the fear of God inside
of me and I put down the phone
and walked away.


February 22, 2012 § 8 Comments

It is two hundred years in the future
and we are sitting in separate bedrooms
I talk to my socks as I put them on in the morning
when you will not rise
I balance coffee cups on my nose, pull cigarettes
from inside my ears, and you are sleeping still

It is two hundred years in the future and
only now can you pick up the picture sitting
at your bedside
a small photograph of us, sleeping on a couch
in the dark, two hundred years in the past

Only it is two hundred years in the future and
there is no photograph, and we never spoke that
one last time, and there were other women but they weren’t me.

I never said it because I thought you would know,
closure is like love:
what you do not have, you cannot give.
This is a present you must make yourself.

By Jennifer Simmons