Fall 2008, Volume 28, No.4
Daniel Simpson, former church musician, computer programmer, and high school English teacher, currently serves as Access Technology Consultant to the Free Library of Philadelphia. He and his twin brother Dave have recently released Audio Chapbook, a CD of their poetry, and he has just completed a volume of poems tentatively titled Inside the Invisible. His work has appeared in The Barefoot Muse, Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Atlanta Review, and Philomel, among others. In 2003, Mr. Simpson received a Fellowship in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He currently serves as Poet Laureate of Lansdowne Pennsylvania.

Broken Reverie

I am not going to write a political poem,

but in my neighborhood, a truck is in reverse.

It has been backing up for a long time.

It beeps incessantly.

It has ruined my poetic reverie.

When they were rebuilding the train station,

trucks backed up all night long.

Some people wrote the newspaper.

Get rid of those beepers, they said.

It's not good to write political poems.

They are so obvious.

That's why, any minute now,

I'm going to get back to my imagination.

But my blind friend made a simple decision one day—

simple as, shall I wear the knit dress

or wool pants to work?

She was just going to buy a sandwich;

she would leave her dog in the office

and take her white cane.

The truck had no beeper.

It was hard to know

in all that city noise

whether to stand still

or keep moving.

Soon I will be able

to stop writing polemics

and start writing poetry.

People want something fresh.

They don't need me

to repeat the obvious.

Vigilance and Dissembling

I'm fascinated by how people dissemble visually,

since I don't see and I don't have cues.

I bet they keep their faces looking fine,

unflustered, while behind their stationary eyes

another set of eyes will check you out.

I say this because, for me,

I act totally in the conversation

while my darting mind springs

at any glitch in their composure—

the revelation of an actor and a part,

a sleight of voice not covered by a mask.

Of course, I have to watch what I say:

it's a matter of tone of voice.

And I'm always listening for anything behind me.

But most of them don't stop to think

I'm listening to them breathe,

or that I hear their body language—

whether they are leaning forward in a chair

or turned away, looking out a window.

What if they find out? Not to worry.

They're so easily amused

by the magic they think that I possess.

Someone talking with her right hand while I hold her left

doesn't know how much I know from the way her body moves,

as if she never touched a tie-line to a dock

and guessed the boat was bobbing up and down.

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