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Ask me. About today.

By Barbara Simmons


Today I have breakfast with my friend whose new haircut I praise, knowing that it comes from her chemotherapy meds, her losing her hair creating her new style, and my feelings range between happy that she’s alive to share breakfast with me, happy that, on the surface, she looks so healthy, and sad because her reality doesn’t change with her hairstyle.

Today I’m thinking about the appointments in life, and the Google meet appointment we had with Jim’s son and his wife—odd to have to make appointments to speak with or see family, and yesterday I decided to say so, thinking, "Who cares if I share that it’s not typical to schedule time with family? Why can’t it just ‘be’ ?" But, I also realize I come across as bitter or critical when all I really want is to be seen as inclusive and flexible.

Today I’m listening to the sound of the computer in the room near my office, listening to my husband listening to a YouTube channel that features crime ‘stops’—the beeps and squeals of sirens, the overtone of authoritative voices, telling us how to be safe, how criminals try to get away with murder, how cars careen at 100+ miles per hour on a chase, how, eventually, most end in a dead end caption—and I’m wondering if I’ve learned anything from that footage.

Today I’m revising my poems, not knowing truly when a poem is ‘done’ and thinking how I’m in revision mode often, how I don’t know when I’ll be done, and how I’m not sure if all my revisions have been necessary.

Today I’m thinking about voice—and gratitude about seeing my voice ‘show up’ and hearing it, even when it’s raspy and doesn’t sound at all like me. It’s still me, vestiges of who I’ve been, not trying to reach ranges—I've never been a soprano, and not sad about becoming an alto—knowing I’m still part of the melody.


Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston and resides in California. Both coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins, and an MA in Education and Counseling from Santa Clara University. A retired educator, she continues to savor life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and try to understand. Publications have included Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, NewVerse News, Topical Poetry, DoubleSpeak, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories – Summer Edition, Swimming, Journal of Expressive Writing, and her recently published book, Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilbriums (Friesen Press) and Sweeping, Not Swept Away, her chapbook from LocalGems Poetry Press. Barbara currently writes from San Jose, CA.


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