The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2020

All Issues
JUL-AUG 2020 Issue



As in emergence, the trip-
tych played all day, toxic,
phantasmagorically, in the
car, into the blank
categorical which was
work, work, work
through the deep channels
of the grocery store, that
involved gallons and
gallons of juice, it
played and played, an in-
strument with no
beginning nor end, letters
unraveling in the black
strumming beyond
ordinary air so she
held onto the gossamer,
the viscous transitory
which bent history, which
she knew was a warped
trap but why should
she care getting an
email from the novelist
between aisles, “You are
the spitting image of my
dead sister,” the woman in
the red apron told her
and handed her the book
her dead sister wrote.
At home, she read
the book, its New
Age discom-
bobulations, meticulously
following the dead sister’s
search for Dion
Fortune, her pain-
staking documentation,
(trips to the UK, interviews
with people who knew
Dion, letters etc.) but the
lamentation or or or
doppelganger or or or
ghost bore no fruit.


Museum of Ex-
tinct Races. Did
you know about this?
No, I didn’t know.
Me either.
simulacra—not a lie.
It’s shocking. Hitler
wanted to turn
the entire city of Prague
into this museum.
They were cataloguing
the books and all
of that. I kind of
want to change
the channel. No,
don’t change it yet.
I thought the Nazis
burned books.
They did that
too. They catalogued
them and burned them.
They did both.
I fell
asleep, fell into
(stage of) (entry)
cealed—it (what was
it?) looks at the past
and present (sees
the same monument).
What doesn’t it see?
Progress (vanishes
with it). Shadow.
(performs infinitely)
The sun is left-justified.
It is maddening,
haunted like cheeks.

For Last Year

In 1839, a rage for
tortoises overcame Paris.
Shortly after, an absolute
wonder became part of
history—The Crystal
Palace. He uses “dream”
435 times in The Arcades
, “history,” 498.
Subtract dream from
history, you get con-
volutions, residues
of utopia, the imaginary
number e, radicals,
negative fractions, news
of the palace brought sheer
delight to people.
The sun is said to murder
dreams. She woke with
The Quest for Dion
in her lap.
There was nothing there.


I couldn’t keep acting.
What do you mean?
Just, you know, pretending
the metaphors were not
burned tips, gallant, mythic.
I sat in the orbis, sat
on the red comb-
ustable yet debonair green.
I, who dedicated my life to art.
I, who needed so much,
was shivering, melodious,
neurologically divergent
from the source material.
orbis finiens: the horizon
orbis signifier: the zodiac
orbis pars (terrae): a zone.


All your skinny notes
crammed in the margins
of the book you studied
endlessly. What is
known comes too
late and not for lack
of intelligence, this barely
perceptible touch.
The note on Sirius.
They are hard to make
out, my love, and I think
we are both always
on the brink of losing
something imported
from another textural
graveyard? Plague?
you asked. Lucifer?
A cold winter?

you wondered.
The Consolation of
questioned. One can
grow mad with notes,
high, low, trill-
ing but not in-
different. You drove
to school to teach
and every day was
a good one, or so you
said. The blank of
every day for me,
was a text with
no annotation.
A girl makes
a video called, “How
I manifested being
on The Today
” I arrange
what I take in, my vision
a lemon tree growing—
the thorns are
unbelievable—I can see
them from the dining
room table—terrific, sharp.

The Subjunctive Mood

If you turn
your pockets inside
out while you pass
a haunted house, a ghost
won’t follow you down
the road. My son played
violin with his teacher.
The neighbor’s kids played
with my daughter.
The grandmother
covered a baby moccasin
with a terra cotta pot.
Will you kill it? she asked.
I will not. I will not.


I sat in the orbis,
in the docket of debt.
The truth is, I wanted to
remain anonymous.
Tell us about your work
Eyewall sustained
by intensities, eyewall
drinking the blue-
green algae (scum
on a song)  listened to
 over and
over. Tell us about
your work.

No It is real.
(That’s why it is
 so synaptic).
The girl pulled
at my jewelry.
You like circles
she said, gold ones

Said the Hand

Climate change
 has totally fucked with
ancient spells. We just
 can’t find the
For example, where can
you find a lion cub
to slaughter with a
dagger? How are you
supposed to wash its
small heart
with wine for three years
to get the one you love
to love you? Overturn
the ruin—the underside
smells of myrrh, mid-
summer, underworld:
 You like gold ones

Said the Money

Xi Jinping pours
200 billion
units into the besieged
firmament, into
the blue orbis
of frost and fog. Comp-
onents of the vast
solid dome
are man-
ufactured in
Turkey, Czech
Republic and Mont-
gomery, Alabama—
you wait for it.
You just fucking wait
for it.

Viruses disrupt the

Viruses disrupt the market,
distribute their packets
of genetic engulfment
while compressed cores
of time slowly widen
the orchids to dimes
in the dim ratios
of survival. Oh clocks
re-bloom stronger
than they once were.

Whales climb the moon’s
opulent tide in a
kaleidoscope of slow
instincts. Undaunted,
he turns over the laundry,
asks that the money
be transferred into an
account loosened from
confiscations. On cue,
two family members
recounted their dreams
at the kitchen table.
I promise to pull each
from the ash heap
with my latex gloved
hands, images reaped
as they sign and sing.

distribute their packets

Maybe we will go
to the mountains.

A philosophical
treaty of the ladder.

An editor asked what
I meant by negation.

The phonemes
of a Tuesday afternoon.

Beautiful creature,
I loved seeing
you, if even for
ten minutes in a year.

A body of work
which exceeds

the boundaries
of the book. A book

which exceeds
the boundaries

making darkness
her screen.

of genetic engulfment

by the blue
green spring.
Did you think
of me too
or did you just go
on with daily life?
The distant thunder’s
gutted shadows
and the dark glare
of March’s
cool palm trees.

My dress ripples
in the windswept
of Floridian light.
The Gulf doesn’t
Know or care
about the National
Guard surrounding
The New York suburb.
The Gulf is complete.
It cannot be reasoned with.
It is our most concrete
collection of shells,
vowels and waves.


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

JUL-AUG 2020

All Issues