• An Old Man Carrying His Catheter Bag
  • how the living
  • The Truth, Nothing But
  • After Katrina
  • Saigon

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

how the living

with white crests bordering
each cuticle

cast higher
on either thumb

even with that light
folded into your darkroom body

so long practiced in fracture   you
conceive a fumbling

white egged


before the eyes settle
you bleat

hands cupped
ovals like feeders

speechless & shoveled
you are wood bent wet

. . .
. . .

before your ashes
measure against regret

that family-sized regret
toted from childhood

to your house warm with coffee
& nightclothes

as you settle in bed
copper to his hammer   to hers

a Buddhist thing will happen
in the mouth layer

your fingers for Chopin
soldier on in music

The Truth, Nothing But

for Elvis

Little Richard was angry for years

He’d given up the Gospel

to somebody white and pretty

who kept begging in that sexy drawl


than a roll of quarters

Show me how to turn my bones

to brown sugar

I wanna be sweet

I wanna be sweet

After Katrina

There's no Sabbath in this house

Just work

The black of garbage bags

yellow-cinched throats opening

to gloved hands

Black tombs along the road now

proof she knew to cherish

the passing things

even those muted before the water came

before the mold's grotesquerie

and the wooden house choked on bones

My aunt wades through the wreckage failing

no matter how hard she tries

at letting go

I look on glad at her failing

her slow rites

fingering what she'd once been given to care for

The waistbands of her husband's briefs

elastic as memory

the blank stare of rotted drawers

their irises of folded linen still

smelling of soap and wood

and clean hands

Daylight through these silent windows

and I'm sure now Today is Sabbath

the work we do, prayer

I know what she releases into the garbage bags

shiny like wet skins of seals

beached on the shore of this house


He masturbates me under

a clean white towel

I've come for the metaphor

above the entrance

   Golden Smile


And isn't this why

we fought in Vietnam

the commerce between us

baby oil unifying skins

the opal of us shimmering

before my shot of silver   later

the shower's steam thick

among locals and foreigners

satisfied with such extravagance

for so cheap


The dollar is strong

Currency of the weak

Kevin Simmonds is a musician and writer originally from New Orleans. He studied music at Vanderbilt University, Middle Tennessee State University and completed the Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina. He founded Tono International Arts Association, an international arts presenter in northern Japan (Iwate Prefecture).

Kevin received a Fulbright fellowship to Singapore where he started the first-ever poetry workshop in Changi Prison. He has published poems, essays and reviews in American Scholar, Bellevue Review, FIELD, jubilat, Kyoto Journal, Massachusetts Review, Poetry, RHINO and Salt Hill, and in the anthologies Beyond the Frontier, Ecopoetry, Gathering Ground, The Ringing Ear, To Be Left with the Body and War Diaries.

His books include the poetry collections Bend to it and Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry, 2014 & 2011) and two edited works, Ota Benga Under My Mother's Roof (University of South Carolina Press, 2012), the final work of the late writer Carrie Allen McCray, and the poetry anthology Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011).

As a composer and performer, he's collaborated frequently with Kwame Dawes on several projects including Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse, I Saw Your Face, HOPE: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica and Wisteria: Twilight Songs of the Swamp Country. Wisteria was the subject of a 2007 BBC Radio documentary and HOPE received an Emmy Award in 2009. Most recently, he wrote the music (and co-wrote the text) for Emmett Till, a river, a Japanese noh-inspired oratorio that debuted at Theatre of Yugen in late 2013.

His music has been performed throughout the US, Japan, the UK and the Caribbean, and his films, such as Singing Whitman and feti(sh)ame, have been screened at SF Frameline Festival, MIX NYC, Provincetown International Festival, Hong Kong's InDBlue Festival and Barcelona's Mimi LGBT Short Film Festival.

Kevin has received awards, fellowships, commissions and grants from Atlantic Center for the Arts, Cave Canem, Creative Work Fund, Fulbright, Jack Straw, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, Squaw Valley and San Francisco Arts Commission. You can reach him at simmondskevin at gmail dot com.


10.1 Poetry Society of America Series, McNally Jackson, New York, NY, 7pm


9.18 Crazyhorse Reading Series, College of Charleston, Alumni Memorial Hall, Charleston, SC, 7pm

9.4 Radar Reading Series, San Francisco Main Library, 6pm

JULY 2014

7.17 Readers Bookstore, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 6:30pm

7.10 Why There Are Words Series, Studio 333, Sausalito, CA, 7pm

MAY 2014

5.16 Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, 8:15pm

APRIL 2014

4.19 Bend to it *release*, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 6:30pm

4.8 City Lights, San Francisco, 7pm

4.2 Saint Mary's College of California, 6:30pm

MARCH 2014

3.30 The Eagle and the Wren Series, Two Moon Art House and Cafe, NY, 6pm

3.27-29 Split This Rock Conference, Washington, DC

3.22 Bureau of General Services-Queer Division, New York, NY, 7pm

3.2 The Emerald Tablet, San Francisco, 7pm


2.26-3.1 AWP Conference & Bookfair, Seattle


12.14 Lone Glen Series, Oakland, 7:30pm

12.5 Readers Bookstore, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 6:30pm


11.7-10 & 14-17 World Premiere of Emmett Till, a river, NOHSpace, Theatre of Yugen, 8pm (Sundays, 2pm) 


9.21 Sonoma County Book Festival, Santa Rosa, CA, 1:30pm

9.18 Radar Reading Series, San Francisco Public Library, 6pm

APRIL 2013

4.3 SF Castro Books, Inc., San Francisco, 7:30pm

MARCH 2013

3.25 Phoenix Books, San Francisco, 6:30pm

3.8 AWP, Hynes Convention Center, Room 209, Boston, 10:30am

3.7 Make Shift Boston, 8:30pm

3.7 Queertopia! Reading, Club Cafe, Boston, 5pm


2.7 WordTemple, Sebastopol, 7pm


12.4 Bissap Baobab, San Francisco, 6:30pm


11.11 City Lights, San Francisco, 5pm

11.7 Shotwell 50 Studio, San Francisco, 7pm


10.17 Thoreau Center, San Francisco, 5pm

10.10 & 11 The Garage, San Francisco, 7pm


9.23 City Lights, San Francisco, 5pm

9.18 San Francisco Public Library, 6pm

JULY 2012

7.25 & 26 Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, 8:30pm

7.4 Bryant Park, Word for Word, New York, NY, 7pm

JUNE 2012

6.27 & 28 Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance, AAACC, San Francisco, 8pm

6.26 Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 6:30pm

6.10 The Hudson Valley Writers' Center, Sleepy Hollow, NY, 4:30pm

MAY 2012

5.22 Poetry Society of America, Los Angeles, CA, 7pm

5.20 SC Book Festival, Columbia, SC, 12pm

5.16 Southern Exposure, Off the Wall, San Francisco, 7pm

APRIL 2012

4.17 Theatre of Yugen, San Francisco, 8pm

4.16 Theatre of Yugen, San Francisco, 8pm

4.7 Galeria de la Raza, San Francisco, 7pm

MARCH 2012

3.24 Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Washington, DC, 9:30am

3.22 Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Washington, DC, 4pm

3.3 Unchartered Books, Chicago, 7pm


2.29 The Hungry Brain, Chicago, 9pm

2.29 The Poetry Center, Chicago, 5:30pm

2.26 The Poetry Show, KUSP 88.9, Santa Cruz, CA, 9pm

2.26 Theatre of Yugen, San Francisco, 2pm

2.6 University of Miami, School of Communication, Miami, FL, 6:30pm

2.4 FOKAL-Unesco Hall, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, TBA


1.12 Lakeside School, Seattle, 3:15pm

1.11 Gay City Health Project, Seattle, 6pm

1.10 The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, 7pm


12.3 - 11 Various Readings & Performances in Tokyo & northeastern Japan, TBA


11.14 Marin City Library, 7pm

11.10 Hormel Center, San Francisco Public Library, 6pm

11.5 Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC, 2pm

11.1 Salmon Poetry and Poetry Ireland Reading, Unitarian Church, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland, 6:30pm


10.31 O'Bheal Reading, Cork, Ireland, 9pm

10.28 Outhouse, Dublin, Ireland, TBA

10.27 Over the Edge Reading Series, Galway, Ireland, 8pm

10.24 Poetry Society, 22 Betterton St. Covent Garden, London, 7:30pm

10.18 LGBTQQIA People of Color Union at Rutgers University, Red Lion Cafe at the Rutgers Student Center on College Ave. Campus, New Brunswick, NJ, 8pm

10.16 Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St. NW, Washington, DC, 5pm

10.14 Cave Canem Reading, NYU Lillian Vernon House, 58 West 10th Street, New York, NY, 5pm

10.3 Dominican University Library, Moraga, CA, 5:15pm

10.2 West Hollywood Book Fair, 2pm


9.29 Kaleidescope Reading Series, 3109 24th St., San Francisco, 7:30pm

9.24 Residence Reading, Wingspread, Marin, 2pm

9.18 Revolution Books, 2626 South King St., Honolulu, 3pm

9.15 M.I.A. Art & Literary Series, The Fresh Cafe, 831 Queen St., 7:30pm

9.13 Book Shop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Book Shop Santa Cruz, 7:30pm

9.12 Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, 7:30pm

9.10 Book Launch, Fort Mason Bookshop, San Francisco, 3pm

9.1 Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Vanderbilt University, 7pm


8.16 Reading, Feast of Words, SOMArts, 934 Brannan St., San Francisco, 7pm

8.2 - 3 Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse, National Black Theatre Festival, Winston-Salem, NC, Times, 8pm

JUNE 2011

6.5 Restacking the Deck: Cave Canem & Kundiman Reading, Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave., 12pm

MAY 2011

5.12 Thoroughly Modern Maupin: The Legacy of Armistead, Litquake, A.C.T. & BARtab, Swedish American Music Hall, 2174 Market Street, San Francisco, 8pm


2.5 Split this Rock, Poets for Living Waters, Busboys and Poets, Washington, DC, 5-7pm

2.4 Salmon Poetry Reading, Pigment Art Studio, Washington, DC, 8pm

2.3 War Diaries and The Encyclopedia Project Reading, The DC Center, Washington, DC, 7:30pm


1.29 Rhymes & Rhythms, Manilatown I-Hotel, San Francisco, 2-5pm

1.11 Poets 11, Readers Cafe, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. C, San Francisco, 6:30pm


12.10 War Diaries Anthology, UCLA's Film & Television Archive Series, Billy Wilder Theater, 7pm


11.3 CHANGED: Poetry You Can Believe In: Cave Canem & Kundiman Reading, Manilatown I-Hotel, 868 Kearny, San Francisco, 7pm