Rachel M. Simon's first book of poems, Theory of Orange won the 2005-2006 Transcontinental Prize from Pavement Saw Press. Simon teaches writing and gender studies courses at SUNY Purchase College, a maximum security prison, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Review of Theory of Orange

Two Poems by Rachel M. Simon


One thing about human nature is that nobody
wants to know the exact dimensions of their small talk.
I can't imagine good advice.
If every human being has skin
how come I can see all of your veins?
Clicks and drips target my skull.
Important voices miss their target.
Some cities are ill suited for feet.
I'd never buy a door smaller than a tuba, you never know
what sort of friends you'll make.
In the future there will be less to remember.
In the past I have only my body and shoes.
The gut and throat are two entirely different animals.
My hands don't make good shoelaces, but I'm going to stay
in this lane, even if it's slower.
The trick was done with saltwater and smoke
and an ingredient you can only find in an
out-of-business ethnic food store.
It all comes down to hand-eye coordination.
Once it took all my energy to get you out of the tub
we had converted from an indoor pool to a house.
I ended up on snorkeling spam lists inadvertently.
It is all inadvertent.
If you don't believe me ask your mom.

[from Theory of Orange and also in
Tony Hoagland's Real Sofistkashun]

That About Which We Cannot Speak

Vijay tells a roomfull of poets that he's impatient for his parents to die
so he can write his memoir with details undisputed by scientific fact
or tinkering shared in small-talk-cheese-eating moments.
Now he's just doing the dishes with one eye on the clock.

The rules in his kitchen are different than mine. Out his window are the walls
Brooklyn built around whole families in small boxes. Out ours
twelve varieties of cement hold the flattest earth to its axle. A child's plastic shovel
strikes limestone bedrock. Protective layers: pliable, unremitting.

Genealogy may include fashion expectation, more likely middle names.
If you can subvert the dominant paradigm for a few seconds, I might lift this shelf
right off the ground. Somewhere in an old book there's treasure.
In the family there are secrets, typically radiating out from a stark pubescence.

What if the world gets big again? What if perspective can only be gained
standing on a mountain-top-lazy-susan spun by the lag of the earth.

[from Theory of Orange]