The poetry of Jessica Simpkiss

Somewhere in the middle

Saturdays, early,
while the city still sleeps
we creep away before the
world comes to life – passing
empty parking lots with the city
mandated trees strangled by the
concrete that surround the centers
we pass by, but at least our conscious’
are clear as we pave over their brothers
and sisters for more shops that no one needs but
everyone cheers.  We slink out, no other
souls on the road yet, all their eyes still heavy
with sleep and some with booze, trading the
stores for the silver silos glinting in the
new days sun and road side carts with
greens for sale and an honesty box that preserves
money disguised as morality. The gloom of the
concrete slips away into pastures of green
and gold with old trailers dotting the side of the
road as we speed by. Railroad tracks click under
our tires again and again, tracks where little
girls sit dreaming of a loftier world they think
exists at their end.  We pass the feed and seed, it’s
red siding glowing against the peridot painted
pastures and I know the trip is half over, so I slow for
her to soak in something real, like the ducks and
chickens that run wild along the road and so I
can see the old fireplace that not so long ago stood
tall in the middle of the golden grain field, now just a pile of
rubble I never stopped to take the perfect picture of.
But even here, the city has crept in, its tedium
pushing through the pastures on billboards shadowing the front
yards of meager men who cannot afford the luxury they
promise, begging drivers to just keep driving through
to the other side where vast houses and shopping
galore await them, the promise of white sand beaches they
enjoy for a week, leaving the stench of the city behind in the
useless objects they jettison along the way.  But now it’s
winter, and the fields are dusted with frost while the signs
sit idle because everyone knows the winter is locals only.  I
enjoy the discreet passage of the trip, free of traffic and its
racket, finding pleasure in the fields and greens,
the quiet and the seas, only found when I’m lost, here,
somewhere in the middle.




Boys that love girls

When she was little
It was cute, the way the boys
loved her on playground time
In the shadow between the
swings and the red plastic slides
looking down her throat
when they made her laugh
and up her skirt when she
crossed the monkey bars
her legs hanging open, spilling
secrets of the little girl kind
that mothers try to hide behind
polka dots and candy strips

When she was older but
still young, playground time became
heavy lunchroom butterflies
and awkward shy sideways eyes
but the boys still knew to make
her laugh and kissed her quickly
when her eyes were closed while
the teachers looked the other way
jealous of the candied love in their
baby sized eyes, listening to her
laughs before the bell yells and
they’re are lost in lunchroom lullabies

When she’s older and not young
I wonder how the
boys will love her and if they’ll
remember to make her laugh
when they take her in the woods
and try to love her behind trees
when they think no one is looking
I hope that they do, but know that
they won’t because when boys
try to become men before they know
it’s true spelling, laughing to
them starts to mean crying and
little girl’s tears the badges
they earn as they learn to hunt love
for sport, forgetting the times
that love was once real
in the shadow between the
swings and the red plastic slides

Jessica Simpkiss lives and works in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and daughter. She is a graduate of George Mason University where she received a degree in Art History.  Her work has most recently been published or is forthcoming in Hartskill Review, Zimbell House Publishing, West Trade Review, the Virginia Literary Journal, amongst others.

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