by Kimberly Ann Southwick
Kimberly Ann Southwick is the founder and editor in chief of the literary arts journal GIGANTIC SEQUINS, which has been in print for over ten years. Her full-length poetry manuscript, ORCHID ALPHA, will be published by Trembling Pillow Press in 2021; it was a finalist over six times and a semi-finalist twice before getting picked up. Kimberly has been a featured reader at the Open Mouth Poetry Festival and Dogfish New Orleans Reading series. Her most recent chapbooks are EFS AND VEES (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015) and the micro-chap LAST TO BET: THE NEAR SONNETS, which was released from Ghost City Press in July 2020. She graduated in May 2020 with her doctorate in English & Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She tweets at @kimannjosouth; visit her at kimberlyannsouthwick.com for more.
the night before the ghost tour, through the ups & downs
of the campside hills, eyes were everywhere—
& not just your chocolate chip abysses
but the trees had eyes, the tents too.
the night of the ghost tour, we gravitated happy
towards slow flashing lights & you kept knocking into me like it were an accident.
I wanted to hear you say again words you like the sound of, cedar, sublime, or tell me
again how jealous you are of Frank, how handsome he is, how much I notice him,
but how could I not: he flashed me the peace sign, shirtless, filling a bottle at the well,
& my mind got wrong. I tried standing still next to him & his pregnant girlfriend—
but no, not him, you: you goddamn nice-haired, long-haired, dark-
haired man with those big arms, christ, what the fuck is it about them.
the night after the ghost tour,
I wanted to sneak into the empty green room & let you overpower me,
hold me down, tell me there's nothing we can do about all those eyes except this this this
until the night spit dew & we could both learn fast to keep quiet in our hands like
smoke or regret, but not right then—
PUT YOUR GODDAMN ARMS AROUND ME ALREADY
we stand rockside, the city wearing its boated water like a dress.
if he hasn’t yet, the small tide laps the shore, is he content
with his octopus limbs wild at his sides? my breath tempos
to the pulse of the current. solstice covers me like a velvet cape.
/ back home, our front door is red & open. we swim through to Lynda’s
where the brownies aren’t working & the dogs are fighting & everyone
is old or at least older than we are. everyone repeats the same question,
the one you’ve already answered, like we’re on the Jersey boardwalk
where guys in wet shorts ask about your tattoo & show you theirs
& I just want soft serve. / here, when we reach edge of land alone,
we find only cord grass & marsh. I am the Queen of Cups,
hair braided & pinned. the water snakes my feet & I’m considering
starting over like it would set me free, but this gluten-free scone
isn’t life-changing, I’m still hungover, & if not him, someone dismal else.
instead, I cherish squatting to piss outside, yelling something drunk—
is it Borgne or Pontchartrain, I don’t know— how fast we drove
through the 4am city streets, stupid breathless speed— instead,
I’m a helium balloon reflecting sky, thrilled to be tied to the back of this chair.