I was hated as a child.
Simon says, Blow your nose.
My father worked, my mother froze
and I was one day meant to be
an entity of their desires
and hidden when their love expired.
Simon says, Dance fast dance slow
to any simple melody.
Simon says, The past is there—
behind your shadow, like a tree.
— Jan Freeman
Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.
Also by Jan Freeman: Autumn Sequence
7.5 x 9, 112 pp
Comments & Reviews
"Simon Says is just gorgeous. I needed this book! It's wonderful. I will talk about it. I will give copies to people. Jan Freeman has written an extraordinary piece of work" — Dorothy Allison
"Jan Freeman, a daughter of Dickinson and Stein, pursues her celebration of vision: solitary, insistent, eccentric. Simon Says is a peculiarly American and feminine pleasure." — Carole Maso
"If happiness, tenderness, grandiosity, etc. killed the cat, and the cat likes it better that way, what can we expect to die from and will we like it better also? And if the brassiere is in the tree, where are the rest of our things? Will wood save us along with the memory of scent? Is there a simple cure for comfort? And when will the angel arrive with convection in her pocket? It's all in the cadences." — C.D. Wright
"To my mind, Simon Says earns Freeman the right to call herself one of the great lesbian mythmakers, for she turns her encantatory voice that which is essentially, although not exclusively, lesbian: mantras, romantic and decidedly sexual loving, dogs and cats, and nature. Her work is sometimes expansive, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes carefully controlled, and always deeply thoughtful. Ironically, though, the myths in Simon Says arise without even the utterance of words like lesbian; they reside in the lesbian rather than insist upon it, a distinction that bespeaks Freeman's commitment to the poem as a kind of melodic activist movement. Freeman's reviewers have consistently invoked Stein and Dickinson to characterize her poetry. True, but too easy. Freeman works too hard for that; each and every one of her poems is both unique and uniquely connected to the whole poem that is the book Simon Says…. Freeman's work is held together by the sheer force of her images rather than by conventional syntax and punctuation, or even by poetic lineage…. These poems need to be read, savored, returned to time and again (perhaps we obsessive Type A's should, for instance, return to Freeman's ‘Morning Mantra’ each day). My suggestion? If you're a lesbian (oh hell, even if you're not) take Freeman to bed with you for a few months, read a poem a night, bask in its complexity and fullness, then spend the final months of your ninth life loving it again." — The Lesbian Review of Books