Poetry » Danny Earl Simmons »

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The Struggle Is Real

And Gravity’s a son of a bitch.
In fact, The Struggle and Gravity

are Bad Luck and Trouble’s bastard
twins – the result of a sultry summer

liaison on that beach near Guadalajara
where they shared more than a pitcher

of margaritas one afternoon and ended
up panting together under the very same

ceiling fan. Hell, yes, The Struggle is real –
real as the way either More or Less gets old

as tossing and turning inside twisted sheets
while Recurring Secret Dream takes its time

sucking off all the breath you’ll ever have.
Imagination’s real, too. How else could it

bury you beneath the way it makes Every Day
a viscous plod of going nowhere at the speed

of Refrigerator Light? But The Struggle? Well,
it’s reality not checked at the door, reality twice

warmed over, reality heavy as Gravity on a bender
halfway between Pretty Damned Good and Gone.

If a Tree Blah, Blah, Blah

If it drops first as a seed into the soft black humus
of its forbears, taking root, growing green and sapling
into something tall enough and wide enough to shade

a picnic between lovers but never, ever does; if the trunk
of it grows a thick brown bark that never once eases the itch
of a grizzly bear’s back; if its branches grow long, lush, and

heavy with fuzzy leaves that one season after another season
fail to nest the wide open Vs of shivering chicks; if it awakens
every morning for coffee, bitter in the dark, before its daily trudge

through invisibility and grasping for something slightly greener than
the week after week direct deposit of imaginary numbers straight into
the strange isolation of fearing missing a phone call while singing

in the shower; if it wanes before ever being climbed; if it shrivels
into cracked fractions of what it was supposed to have become
before falling without making a sound, have I ever really lived?

Portrait of a Mother and Her Son Walking Across a Bridge

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for Sarah and Aksel

They’re holding hands as all autumn unfolds
behind them. She watches him watch his step.

He is aware of the camera, sure, and grins,
but he cannot help noticing they’re walking
over water – water that is a long way down.

I imagine their conversation, his questions
about distance, depth, certain structural strengths.

I take a second to wonder why they are alone,
about what invisible things they might be lugging
across the damp boards, how they manage smiles.

I now imagine other questions and her answer, maybe,
“Son, there’s nothing that’s not a bridge.”