Vesper by Kevin Simmonds


The police steal
a black boy’s songs
they steal them between
the knees in his back
all the asphalt he’s seen

The police steal songs
from those with bass
in their skin
clicking their tongues
in belligerence & blight
bullets frowning
the frown of a dead star night
somebody somebody loves
flown headlong into night

Be careful with your song
how you sing
don’t bother the wrong
I’ve told you why



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.