Sandra Simonds
Our Lady of Perpetual Help


All this magic against death

        All of it

        To live I don’t want it

To live the light in August that’s it

the way leaves live dead tint themselves for fall

       The yellow ribbed frog is extinct as of 12/1/2013

He was an amphibian creeping like the Bible

You’re something incandescent or comely

but I can’t dissect your eyes like an electric rabbit named Paul Revere

         I will die with a glass heart in my hand

        I will die with a glass heart in my hand

You need to repeat after me

This is Mississippi

          the moon is dusted terrible


You learned how to spell me in school terrible

      To die like light in august please let me

      You need to mark every place Faulkner was racist

and re-write the novel as an erasure

If you’re good man, you’ll rewrite the moon

and then we will fall for each other backwards

     which is our birthright

Which is the soft land and her animals

    when nature mellows like a porous fruit


As you become

a character enclosed in my grammar, you

      become object I’m ashamed

      The yellow frogs are gone did you see them parting?

Things grow long and unrecognizable

Love is recognized as an anarchic structure

of scribbles, vines, buttresses, spires

            conspiracy theories weak as gas station coffee


You see six nuns in south Alabama moving

towards the gas station named Brittney

like a prehistoric herd in the mauve twilight

They go down the War on Terror

      Memorial Highway in their big bus vroom vroom

They are not right not of our century

They are the cryptic language of the kill

       They are not who they pretend to be

One is pregnant under her habit

       One thinks she ought not to do what? Touch that

One buys a Diet Dr. Pepper and Twizzlers


They go down the highway, a sparkling acid trip

           They are psychedelic and crazed as lions crave energy,

            their eyes revolving like enervated shadows

 in the painted murals of their thinking

         They are snorkeling in the waters of death

They are not the gentle motion of waves


But rather the black deaths of rivers and crosses

  Burdened with the low down poisonous creatures

        They are the black death

of orgiastic chimneys, soot

          and the frail air that surrounds it

as the flesh surrounds the heart

     and is also the heart


They go down the highway on god on the run

       I want you to say this, Mississippi   6 miles

        I want you to love terror, Alabama   10 miles

I want you to be on the interior

         of this spiked gothic, Mississippi    15 miles

I want you to be on the run, Alabama     27 miles


I want you to listen in and tell me

        you love me, Mississippi      85 miles

I will squeeze it out of you like a glass heart

 thrown into parts of the earth

        you don’t want to see     132 miles

I will die with a glass heart in my hand

as if it’s a diamond encrusted scepter I know it

      I am the queen of this disaster

 I can feel it deep inside me



This is a torch

This is a door

This is a tree

This a gun

This is a nun

This is a pregnant nun

This is none

            This is the baby inside the nun

This here is Baby None

                        Say hello to None Hi None

This ain’t Baby None

                        Say bye to Baby None Bye None

Inside the War on Terror Memorial


                        is Family None driving to nothin’

None of it I’ve said before

Nothing has gone down

this highway except deer and a glass heart

It is desolate here


This is a place of weeping things

        where the world has wept and wept and no one has come

              to wipe the tears

No Father None No Mother None

No Baby None Comes No Sister

None Comes No Brother None Comes

No One like None


It’s that kind of place

You’ve never seen it before

It is blind to everything

halfway between extinguished and extinct

            where the yellow frogs do not rain or come



It is not good

When you came there you cried

     for centuries on end because you felt yourself

            turn into a tarnished antique like a scepter

from another century

                        and this was no good


Never mind, the gas station or the girl who barfed

                        in the van of Christmas tinsel

or the nuns who have dissolved

 into the South Alabama mist

No one sees them except us and that

            Is why we love each other


This is my life

I don’t want it I do

        These are the frogs I don’t want them I do

These are the nuns I don’t want them


I do no more I do

I do know more      I know I do

I do no more       harm I know I do

I do to you    please say I do






Found In Volume 45, No. 03
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  • 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.