Something Owed by Kevin Simmonds


Soon as Ella
began beading
the pearl-perfect tune
white woman knew for sure
what she could do

Soon as Ella spun
her slender-waisted tone
white woman knew why
she’d sought the voice

Her powdered face
her lonely table

A battered wife returned home
to the husband she’d kill
Summer, 1952



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.