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Aug 20th
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Poetry Corner

ae poetryKevinEditor’s note: This week’s Poetry Corner features Kevin Simmonds, a San Francisco-based writer, musician, and filmmaker, originally from New Orleans. His books include “Mad for Meat,” “Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality,” and “Ota Benga Under My Mother’s Roof.” He wrote the music for “HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica,” which won a 2009 Emmy Award.

July in St. Helena
vine workers pass like la brisa calma
though my windows
as i ease up on the gas to San Francisco
an hour away
one dirty white man against a newspaper rack
by Walgreens waiting
for anyone to look
i will but won’t say sorry
i don’t have a job either
& poetry doesn’t change that
the slant of sorry
doesn’t ease his tightened throat
when the vine worker hears
there are five too many & he
may be one of them
saying in his mind
mi hija mi hija
like Hail Mary without the beads
now dangling from his rear view
what is want   what is need
what’s sweat without the breeze
my stepfather would say
in his wide brimmed hat staring
at how delicate i would always be
how scared he was of that

Aunt Jemima  
My momma put a scarf ‘round my head when I was a child. I can’t hardly remember my head without it. It don’t even come off no more. I dream of combs, of a man undoing the knot, taking me away somewhere.

I comfort. Sticky sweet maple flow of bosom they been sucking since 1889. Uncle Ben know what I’m talking ‘bout. We comfort.  

Flat worlds stacked one on top the other. I holds them together.  

Never mind that update they say they did 20 years ago, when they replaced my scarf and gave me pearls and a lace collar. That ain’t me.

Tell me something sweet, something that’ll stick and undo the knots I known.

An Old Man Carrying His Catheter Bag
white-haired vapor
in khakis
shuffling down a street

held it waist high
a flag
signaling the body

solid   liquid   gas
the body comes
to all three

I am bile
as I am wit
I drink to live in this body

See to it that you revere
this gold
this gold
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