Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Love

When I was a child, my mother told me
God has many faces
And She reveals Herself
In many ways. God might be
The cleaning lady who came 
To our house on Tuesdays,
Or the woman in rags sitting on the sidewalk,
Or the blind girl lost in the bus station.
You never know, she said, who She is
Or what She has in mind for us.
This from a Southern Baptist girl
Whose family sent her sisters to college
And passed her by. She learned
About the world through novels 
And movies -- endless stories folded
Into endless laundry. She bore
Five children in five years.
This kind generous woman 
Overwhelmed by work,
Sustained by dreaming, blinded
By the bright light
Of love, raised denial
To an art form. Everyone she knew
Was a secret perfection.
Our best selves were exactly
What she knew us to be.
Her husband was not
A narcissistic bully, 
Vain, egotistical and angry, no,
He was a hero who charged
Into work every single day 
To provide for his growing and 
Perfect family. Her sister was not
A lesbian who hid a 40 year
Relationship with her partner,
Living a necessary lie,
But a woman who so loved
Her friend she would risk
The insults and injuries 
Of bigotry.
And I… 
I was not a lost young man 
Baffled by life, who drank too much,
But her shining prince,
Her Byron, her Cary Grant.

When she shared her vision 
Of God’s many faces 
With her brother-in-law,
The pastor, he slammed 
His fist on his desk
And proclaimed Blasphemy!
She never spoke of it again.
But once, I saw her sitting on the sofa
Stroking the cat, pausing at a page
In National Geographic – an illustration
Of Kali, the blue four-armed goddess,
Tasking her many children,
Nurturing, disciplining the unruly 
World. The Divine Mother,
Her long pink tongue sticking out
Defiantly, stands with one foot 
Stolidly on the ground,
And one foot on her husband
Shiva, the Destroyer of Worlds, 
Who seems oddly content lying there,
While She, the Mother of Time,
Holds the dark severed head
Of His enemy in one hand, another hand
Holding a bowl to catch the dripping blood.

Janie Lu Cook Simms (1933-2012)

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His latest collection of poetry is Nightjar (Ragged Sky, 2021). Originally from Texas, Simms now lives in Pittsburgh.

Love” by Michael Simms is from American Ash published by Ragged Sky, copyright 2020.

Kali (source: Wikimedia)

22 comments on “Michael Simms: Love

  1. Sean Sexton
    May 18, 2023

    This is a wonderful poem I missed through the glitch of the site changes that left my screen bare. I’m still not certain how to deal with it, its almost like looking away to see something better in the dark, but I found a scroll somehow clicking something up top and was able to view (or review) everything from today’s book review, to Jim May and Dawn, not to mention your lost (to me) Mother poem. Loved it!
    Thankyou. Still working on making the site work. Needs some sitework. Hah!


    • Vox Populi
      May 18, 2023

      Thanks, Sean. The WordPress Platform is causing the glitches. They’ve told me that they are working on the problem. Thanks for staying with us.


  2. Claudia Nolan
    October 19, 2019

    A touching, complex and lovely tribute to your Mom. I like her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chaz70
    October 13, 2019

    Thank you for this. Little wonder you became a poet. And a good one! C.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sally bliumis-dunn
    October 13, 2019

    Wonderful portrait, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John Samuel Tieman
    October 13, 2019

    I love the way this poem moves. At first, it almost seems light and uplifting. The reader almost expects it to take a nasty turn toward the Hallmark Card. Instead, the images get disturbing and even exotic. And finally revelatory in ways that defy precise definition. The poem flows the way the Mississippi flows, a simple stream at first, but one that ends in a delta that spreads in a hundred directions.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emily DeFerrari
    October 13, 2019

    Oh what a wondeful moment reading this poem, or should I say moments, as I’ve read it 3 times in rapid succession, getting to know this woman. Thanks Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Barbara Huntington
    October 13, 2019

    Wow! For some reason I need that exact poem today!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. charliebrice2017
    October 13, 2019

    Wow! A powerful and moving poem. Charlie

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  9. brendabutkagmailcom
    October 13, 2019

    perfect. wow. exactly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sarah Gordon
    October 13, 2019

    Terrific poem, Mike. It has moved me greatly.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jo McDougall
    October 13, 2019


    Great, powerful poem!


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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