San Francisco Centre by Kevin Simmonds


They go for her arms first
but it’s her mouth
that’s screaming
Help me
as people crowd at the banisters

the lunch crowd of tourists
& workers like me
relieved by the distance
that overtakes us
in the moment we might
consider her

hair pulled into a ponytail
the drawstring pants
the daffodil duffle she clutches
across her chest as she sucks in breath
to send out her voice
as she weighs herself down
to resist the security guards
in white
who will surely call the police
to contain her
when all she’s released
is her need

just what
seizes us
is it the blood of this
voice lifting
to the mall’s rotunda

what am I still capable
of hearing?



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.