simon By Raymond Hammond



red rover red rover send
raymond right over--always 
the last thing yelled from the mouths
of the opposing hand-clenched 
line of my third-grade classmates  
way across the green and dirt 
field of elementary 
school—i hated the violence
the running, the breaking grips—
but it was always my dream
to be called first, impressing 
the girl that I liked that day;
be the one that broke the line
like an olympic runner


simon says, though, was always good fun:
simon says play peek-a-boo
simon says tie your left shoe
tug on your ear; oops, you lose

simon says do your homework
simon says mow the front lawn
simon says don’t you sass me
get dressed for church; oops, you lose

simon says believe in god
simon says believe in me
simon says no work sundays
no meat Friday; oops; you lose

simon says work hard and fast
simon says work to make things
simon says work to buy things
work till you drop; oops, you lose

simon says i’ll make you rich
simon says give tithes to me
simon says buy my prayer cloth
come on this cruise; oops, you lose

simon says all is a sin
simon says you’re a sinner
simon says beg for mercy
swear he is god; oops, you lose


simon says play peek-a-boo
simon says tie your right shoe
simon says play red rover
simon says send raymond right over

Raymond P. Hammond is the editor-in-chief of both The New York Quarterly and NYQ Books. He holds an MA in American Poetry from NYU’s Gallatin School and is the author of Poetic Amusement, a book of literary criticism. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife and their dog Hank.

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