Michael Simms – Edge of the Woods

Simms LE P&W 5 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Five Nov-Dec 2023.

Edge of the Woods, poems by Michael Simms.

Edge of the Woods

Let me imagine the edge of the woods
Where the blackberries grow in soft light
Between the bright grasses and the dark
Pillars of trees and let me imagine
What might have been our childhood
If everything had been the way
Adults imagined and how
Strange years later they said the good
Years were back then always re-inventing
The peace they wanted to have won
And let me imagine the light slanting
Down through the leaves and a rustle
Of movement in the dark brush where
The luminous eyes of old fears
See us moving through the border
Of now between light and dark
Field and forest where we sleep
And travel a path to the house

A River Ran Behind the Motel

Not sure where the ashes went
After my brother poured them
In the rapids of the Llano River
The water coming fast over
The limestone shelf slowing
As it joined the reservoir
Where my son and nephew
Years before jumped off the dam
To show off for girls in bikinis
Water clear as sunlight
In those summer afternoons
Where did their cries of joy go
After they echoed over the water?

My mother first then my father
Lingering unable to die
My brother caring growing sad
Tired as the old man lay grieving
His cruelty to me his vain
Attachments to money
And career I’m sorry
He said For what
I asked What did you do?
Nothing nothing I did
Nothing he said
I’m sorry for everything

How small he was
My father lying in bed
Arm over his face
Hiding from the red light
Of the vacancy sign
My brother looking down
At our sleeping old man
My brother still speaking to me
In those evenings of grieving
A river ran behind the motel
We could hear it
As we heard the highway
That brought us back here
Then we didn’t hear anything
But our father snuffling
As he woke startled
And saw me perhaps

© Michael Simms

Michael Simms is the founder of Vox Populi, an online forum for poetry, politics and nature, as well as Autumn House Press, a publisher of books. He’s the author of four full-length collections of poetry including Strange Meadowlark (Ragged Sky, 2023), two novels including The Green Mage (Madville, 2023), the co-author of a college textbook about poetry — and the lead editor of over 100 published books, including the best-selling Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, now in its third edition. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature awarded Simms a Certificate of Recognition for his contribution to the arts. Simms lives in the historic Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

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