Poetry: Laura Sims

POST- (an excerpt)

One hand beat

At a guttering softening bellying eddying

Bank of white dust


Spreading coils

Our men and

The source of our decadence — all of deep space — extracted

At last to a


When I

Sat by the brightness / slew by the brightness / I slew

The last curate whose wailing

Possessed me. Useless and cumbersome



Bouquets of fire

My nerve

Rattled through me

Behind it

Was land — behind that was the Zone

The trees were scarred too

They were washing the streets with white powder


                                    Smoke pouring into the universe

The rose-colored foot

Of the Martian

Fell / like a garment a / grotesque mingling / my / wife’s face white
but a ruin / the sodden / man between longing


Not simply torn between longing and safety
But torn

Somewhere below the great Mother of Cities

Here it’s the same

And the atom is everywhere


What stood in our yard were like demons
outside of time. One had a rock in his mouth,
another a tree branch

And “each man became what he was”

We gave our meat to the meat plant

& the garden, town, village

Lifted from the mind


From above we saw:

A ruined shape

We turned to [colorless]

The sea was like the sky                        a long, long chain that tethered everything

At last, at last

To hunger and terror

Salami and buckwheat

We’ll stand between death and its shining ideals

We’ll fatten from hunger and light the whole earth

With our comrades’ debris

We’ll be grim set on living

We’ll bury the headquarters schools and the baths

And the water main

Oh strange person

Oh person in a vacuum

We with our canons and spaceships were children

Man is simply frightening

(Instead of fields) the forest rises again


The lines of POST- are pulled from/ inspired by/ reconstituted from: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich and War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells.


Laura Sims is the author of three books of poems: My god is this a man (forthcoming, Fence Books 2013), Stranger (Fence Books, 2009), and Practice, Restraint, (winner of the 2005 Fence Books Alberta Prize). She is a co-editor of Instance Press and lives in Brooklyn.