Phu Quoc by Kevin Simmonds



Luc calling me to the water
The breeze carrying his drunken voice
through the mosquito netting
where the bed numbs my body
sheets nearly white
as the sand’s blank stare

We are terrestrial

The bright octaves of our music
relinquishing nothing
in its ascendance

Men on their backs for me
here on the rocky side of this island
one hour from Saigon
where I paid a muscular man
to brutalize me everywhere
but the face

I never knew my skin could map
such constellations



Kevin Simmonds is a San Francisco-based writer and musician originally from New Orleans. His writing has appeared in Asia Literary Review, Cincinnati Review, FIELD, jubilat, The Moth, Pank, and elsewhere. His second collection, Bend to it, appeared from Salmon Poetry in March 2014. He wrote the music for Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica, which won a 2009 Emmy Award, and Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse, both commissioned by the Pulitzer Center. Most recently, he received the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner and a Creative Work Fund commission for the Japanese noh-inspired theatre work Emmett Till, a river. He lives in San Francisco and northern Japan.