Five Poems by Kimberly Ann Southwick

Kimberly Ann Southwick is the founder and editor in chief of the literary arts journal GIGANTIC SEQUINS. She has two poetry chapbooks, most recently EFS & VEES (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015). A poem of hers was a finalist for the 2016 Yemassee Poetry Prize. She is pursuing her PhD in English/Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She currently blogs about chapbooks for Ploughshares. She lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana with her husband, Geoffrey, and their dog, Jasper. Follow her on twitter @kimannjosouth & visit her online at for more.


capitalists beware, new money is the tooth of a whale,
a humpbacked taste of reality, but kinder than unexpected
phone calls answered with blushed hellos–no question mark.
what happens when the planet is sick with something larger
than labor, more complicated than ritually recognized unions
of finance or soul, the debate of which pregnant with tomorrow.

// left out in the sun, whaleskin shrinks—
local bears emerge from dunes to feast for free.
if you’re human, stand dumb & still until
cells buzz & then burst, bloated with light.

the bodies, the ringing, the ceasefire. when the beach is empty
of all but flies, bring a folding chair to water’s edge,
read the tide & listen for a spell. it will call. the earth gravid
with ancient human anger will finally swallow.


the silverfox fur Nana gave me is unsafe here even within plastic
as the azaleas gasp at the humidity but still wilt to empty latex balloons.
it’s March in the south & they’re naming the geographies of Pluto,
a non-planet with moons & topography & a crowd-sourced identity.
they say mountains then features like the proper noun matters more
than the physical properties of what they’re naming but cannot touch.
shea butter, palm ash, rusted window screen. one for the honey,
two for the smoke, the cane fields, the fire. I’m running out of ways
to say I’m lonely enough for the two of us. I’m lying here lonely & don’t
touch me. the soupy air or the heat on or the fans non-stop, a fine film
of pollen that time alone helps disappear. I’m lying in bed & I can see my closet
& its too many clothes, hear every ugly sound the windchime makes. I never
had enough breath for the clarinet, for the marching band. water pools
the cracked concrete street. I never had deep enough roots to know home.


Geoff says I can use our garden’s wild strawberries for lipstick
only in poetry. I snip two bleeding blossoms, they’re dying,

from the three-headed amaryllis he picked me, replace
the vase’s water for the one remaining & ask him

if people ever used amaryllis for dye. where it bled on me
hurts because I want it to not because it actually does. he says,

look it up. my desk reflects tidal versions of me, books, pens, papers
ebbing & flowering, yet not how often my heart blooms loose

& carnal, right here but down the highway, too, across the map.
I mop the dead flowers’ liquids with a freshly printed page,

wonder if how much faithlessness is worth spreading to paper
if there it grows like mold. the liquid dries clear. amaryllis means

“to sparkle” in Greek. they’re also known as hippeastrum
or knight stars or naked ladies. they were once used to dye.


the problem with the old song is I am writing the new one

the dog won’t eat her food

no one is here to remind me an image needs to be beautiful

the dog she only eats grass

she only eats a certain kind of grass

I say to her           you are not a cow           only cows eat grass

no one is here to say otherwise only the dog

her eyes when they face the sun they shine like gemstones

a four-leaf clover I can’t find hides its head in the grass

the dog doesn’t like other dogs and pukes up the grass on someone else’s front sidewalk

no one is here to see           so we walk away

the problem with writing things down           is then you remember them

the problem with writing things down           is then you remember them all wrong


everything in a cloud of smoke

the dog in the dog park

the brown birds in the tall grass

someone over there shouting NO

what I like about the city is noise

if I ever leave

it’s never to come back not to start over

if I leave it’s in a puff of smoke           a hex           a magic trick

I wrote this in the park on the back of a pathetic ATM receipt

on a partly cloudy day