The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2014

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FEB 2014 Issue


Further Problems with Pleasure

There must be some way to prolong the house.
I doubt I will ever use the word “plywood” in a poem
so there’s no way I could build anything substantial anyone
got a razor I haven’t shaved in over a year. I could write a hundred of these
and binge on free speech. “I am intensely attracted to you”
he said a year later. There were monitors everywhere
and they streamed through the world like phantoms.
It induced a kind of paranoia in some but others
found comfort in it. Let me never be the one
who finds comfort in the sherbets of prison so that I can
can kiss you and stay a love poet. There must
be some way to prolong the house.





Lake Ella Aubade
(For Chris Nealon)

“Sometimes I wonder what the novel would have looked like if instead of plots its characters had bodies”

I love to sit by this lake midmorning when I’m slightly hungover.
I love the way the water moves everything to the west, pulls
the birds, tampons, pills, condoms, cups, with it. Cosmopolitan
vortex. A century of Black Fridays splashes on its disgusting
shores. Wondering how much of life is spent getting fucked, or fucking,
getting fucked over or just being a fucker. Maybe some want
a grand narrative instead of this instantaneous flesh flash mob
bullshit but I can’t help loving the way you want me
to suck your dick. Why can’t sheer beauty kill this century
the way it kills me? All the poets write poems titled “Dear Whomever”
but I retaliate and instead sit right here in the middle of this lake.





Conceptual Poem

Conceptual Poetry is a life sentence of selfies shrugging
 in a privatized prison The social role
of the poet was the most annoying girl who cried and cried
all day and in the morning with a picket sign Something I don’t know
 a gang bang I don’t want to say that honey He couldn’t move past
His own pornography which was a problem that involved
Trucks and generally being an idiot I think my ideas are good
here I’m afraid of art museums and Ikea oh god I hate
 Ikea and you and trucks and Tallahassee and who
Is going to pay off my student loans





Further Problems With Pleasure

Friends, I’m going to leave Facebook to become a vegan and/or
astronaut. Flying high above my own sorcery, the police will never
helicopter mom me! He spent the eighties
in Miami stealing cars but he was only the middle man so there’s
something pathetic about that, no? Now he’s in Alabama sitting in a tree swing
hunting deer so it makes me hate him. Once he got
arrested for stealing a sandwich from 7-11. I want to know
what he’s thinking and then I don’t. Throw me in jail where I can write
some poetry. The problem with pleasure
is that you need to force it to be more measurable. A house a palace
a mansion a police car imagine the possibilities. When someone
refers to “the poor,” I turn into a trailer and Hurricane
Rita blows me away. Friends, I’m going to leave
Facebook to become a vegan.






I like the way you look a little depressed. Anyone here got anything
for me to suck on? Shouldn’t down bottles of red wine
I’m a drum on the run I’m a bummer a sad sack of brain matter.
Do all your boys know about each other? I’ve got some venison
in the freezer. Sometimes I read your poems at work and it makes
me feel better but when you say the word “cunt,”
I have to close my browser. I’ve neglected my
studies I’ve neglected to wash the baby socks.
I like the way you look depressed staring out from your
Facebook prison maybe we can talk? Am I creepy? Am I horny?
Anyone here got anything for me to suck on?





On Desire

“Do not give up on your desire” but tell me something that will
destroy my life. The culture and the century are so entwined
so how are we going to break the hearts of the young?
I submit to the trees with this here song! I submit to the summer
and all her lovers glistening like meat! I submit to the way sex propels
the engine forth! I submit to the organisms who shake their
fists and stomp their feet and the clouds with their
complex strategies! Woke up in a Soho doorway police
run the ant hills do you remember my name? My lovers scatter
before me how will I collect them? “Do not give up on your desire”
but tell me the story of something that will.





To the Mother of the Setting Day
(for Whit Griffin)

The absence of sadness may create bitterness. I will give any goddess
who makes her way through this cheap ass apartment a free
pair of Minnie Mouse embossed baby socks. I was up all night rearranging the
that poured from six clear opals and, in the morning, begged only for one
seed to be placed in the middle of a cold, faraway chapel. This is my way
of crying don’t you know that? A few men with hammers
are putting on a new roof next door.  Robert, your mama just called she
sick. The drug dealers have moved into some other ether and I wanted very much
to say goodbye to the motherless one. I know that the sun has forgotten us but god
     damn it 
does it have to mock us also? The absence of sadness may create bitterness.                  





A Poem for Roland Barthes


My story is difficult; it is one of despair.
             Happy songs selling songs are not
                           my weapon here.
              To dissect a year: Sing along
              rotten chimes
                    gone wrong.
Write a comet, Aphrodite. Repair
                 the subject. A note or two
         about love: I love the quasar! Her tentacles,
                  her trance of blood in a city
                           as she drinks. The street
                                   is a trace of lemons,
             a mud bath. Stars that break
through their own
          demonology. Oppression like the phases
                of the peach: Moldy, tender, a pit, a grave.
       Incomplete value. Temperamental. Estranged.
           I took off my lover’s uniform.
                                         I call him “Uniform”; he’s just
                                         some petty shopkeep and
                                          yet I touch his chest hair,
                       force myself to listen to his moronic pauses.
              His moronic reasoning. My story is difficult;
               it is one of despair. It is the inverse
                         of a line of votives. Church mouse:
                                 it is the inverse of church squared.


I like the way comets are just like, “fuck you, whatever.”
                What’s the matter? You don’t seem to be happy.
I like the way they think. Their logic
                      is sound. It is granite.
            I take for granted their clarity and I enjoy
                  the way they demystify some
                     essential affirmation of spunky
                                social media gurus.
               I saw masses of people swarm
                            the glaciated brainchild
                       of doubt. Oh Uniform,
              come hither, you bastard. You idiotic
                   piece of the plural good. Some glittering stupidity
                              like the eyeball of a round lamb.
                      Come, my little comet. You baby doll.
Hi back. To your gorgeous desire
                                  to suffer in realism.


            Born of literature, berated by work.
                             Beaten down by the inflections of viability.
                  To my own philosophy, I am none!
                                                My lover’s truck is gone.
                          Zero energy’s the only wise thing I know:
                          to gather as undertaking; to undertake
                                  as gathering. To be one’s
                     own undertaker. These worn codes
                refresh themselves by the moment as bone. We break
                through them if we cannot
                    afford to.  I love you.
                         But not enough. Not yet and beyond some
                                  limit where  life is what’s reversed.



“The sun’s magnetic field is poised to flip.”
            I speak to myself as if I’m my own
                      horrified narrator. It is sick.
               Inside the idiotic keyhole of language,
            you grip some corrupted verbs
and call it a day. Or a vase. Or hyperbole.
           Or a wage. Talking
     to yourself like ancient, brazen
         history. White page after
                white page skin tone encased like a hard drive,
                             information is what
                                        it transplants.


          The anxiety of losing
     the lover is a Bronze Age guise to remake
reality. A mask. Your remarks are clever.
            In other words, hell.



You dazzle me with your little piece of medieval flesh.
             When will you admit that I surmount
                      your repetitive and myopic
                    star work? The New Year
           exhumes some commonplace
                     errors. One rule of thumb would be
that our story is ours that our love is ours
                  that we keep our scrolls because we do not know
                anything other than an alter
           of syncope and endless
                banalities. A lovely phrase like the skin
                of a flayed shark. At times, I crave cheap
                  Chinese food so hard. Or the sea that
                     continues its course of wrecks.
                 I look out my window and the stillness
                                  of the rural scene
                               breaks my heart.



Devout as I am, the devouring’s
           stronger. A horrible ebb
              within the envelope’s dreaded
         contents. Secretions pulsate like various
            forms of criminality. Text me or circulate
                            like intense visions of Mary
              in palm trees or coral reefs.
Every so many seconds a woman is hit by someone with
          direct tectonic rage. Geology is
                      is some rough sadism I know
                      not what. Agony is property
              but it is also agony. Vow to me, agony.
            Declare your allegiance! Or buy me a house.

In the hotel, alone, I wait for jealousy
     to return me to everything I know.
    Some fucked up figure will either fuck
               me or become the background to
    my intensely cold hands.


   The terror of a breakdown is the background
             of the History of Art.  I am calm. Anxiety mounts.
       Having lost him, I move closer to the comet’s
deranged equipment. I situate myself inside
            the overblown moment as if
   I am the birthright of madness.
            I enslave the bathtub. Doped up
                     lamps are stupid and I’m not okay.
I am my breakdown I’m not okay.
            Wrecking my life was the origin of love.
     Read about the Hittites or Hitler. Above, the sun
                 is a carved marble.

                        Oh Barthes, is there some triumphant dictionary,
                                    some magic charm that will save me from the rent ruin,
                                 the wage ruin, the loan ruin,
               the him ruin, the page ruin, the nerve ruin?

                        Maybe she wears hymns around her neck
                           and lives in the country
                         and is content with nothing
                                less than making a demonology
                                 of the granular surface.

Maybe she keeps goats. Maybe her home
            is in the sun where all the suicides
            go for their little banquet of wine
             and milk and trees?  Maybe she knows
                       the passageway to the mountains?
                    Perhaps she is a song that can only
                           please her enemies. Perhaps with one
                             glance she can slice through the agony of
                property. Maybe she dances in a shell. Maybe
                                         she wears no uniform at all.
                        Maybe she is really a skull. Or a pulse.
                          Maybe she smells like weeds on the seashore.


Sandra Simonds

Sandra Simonds is the author of seven books of poetry including Atopia (Wesleyan University Press, 2019) and Orlando (Wave Books, 2018). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Granta, The New York Times elsewhere.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2014

All Issues