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Blue Panes

Indigo, cobalt, azure. Protection
from the evil eye or wandering ghouls.
Cool icy streams. The color of heaven.
Jesus' robes. Hyacinth blooms.

I always loved those windows,
forty years those blue eyes met mine,
a window to the soul. Mr. Stephenson sent
the boys up on ladders, smashing

laughing with each rain of blue tears.
Blue tick. Bluebird. Blueberry.
Shards settled in the grass and shone
in the streaming sun like a thousand eyes.

Who knew mortar could be spread
so fast? By day end we stood
in the fluorescent lights, surrounded
on all sides by endless brick.

But the debris called to us like jewels to crows.
We couldn't help but pick up the shards,
filling our aprons with textured glass
then stringing our porches with their blue song.

Honorable Mention. Kakalak 2006 Poetry Contest.
All poems copyright Kimberly Simms.


Ugly Jug

Daddy's been in the ugly jug.
Thems took it out in the woods.
Now Daddy thinks he is in love
with a squinty face toothy tight.

Thems took it out in the woods.
They got a fire and all night
with a squinty face toothy tight.
The moon, tonight, shines so bright,

hell, they got a fire and all night.
Thems hammering on banjos
under a moon is shining bright.
Later the boys will come to blows.

Thems hammering on banjos
falling over, laughing stitches.
Later the boys will come to blows.
Mama's bout to pitch a fit.

Falling over, laughing in stitches,
now Daddy thinks he is in love.
Mama's bout to pitch a fit.
Daddy's been in the ugly jug.


Doctor said it would make me grow.
That first time, chaw flipped my stomach.
But all the mill girls dip. My sisters
swear the thick stew keeps out the lint.

When the girls came up, they had spittoons
but now we bring our own little jars.
I ain't never seen a girl smoke a cigarette.
Miss Rena would say it was unladylike.


I saw his kitchen once
a thousand plant pots
crowded every sunspot
each containing a broken leaf
a bit of root,
which would regenerate
he said, into a whole new plant.

I wonder when I leave
what little part of me
he'll having growing in a pot
on his kitchen table?

(c) Kimberly Simms 1997

The Crimp Perm (for Middle School)

For Christmas, my mom bought me
a Limited stone washed Jean Jacket
with poufed sleeves, that jacket was bad
I mean 1980's bad.

Then my mom gave me a perm - not a curl,
spiral, or wave – but a geometric, a fleeting trend
a CRIMP – my hair formerly docile and limp
became big zig-zagged kinks pointing to the outer limits.

Then this crimp and me – we had to go to school.
I imagined what names I would be called: freak, geek
alien, weirdo. I would be ignored by even the most uncool.
I was doomed. I was the only kid in the city with a crimp.

When I went to the bus stop – no one said a word to me
the kids eyes went big; they just stared at my big crooked hair.
Then big Trent said, "Did you stick your finger in an electric socket.";
he laughed, "Can I touch your hair." His fingers glided over ridgey bends.

"That's so cool – you gotta touch her hair." At school that day,
I was the feature attraction. 8th graders were talking to me.
100 kids must have touched my blonde kinky fro.
This shrimp yelled "Electricity head!" I didn't care.

My hair was bad. 1980s Bad.

(c) Kimberly Simms 2003

Small Spaces

Women live in small spaces,
in corners, in the backs of drawers,
in shoe boxes under beds.
Someone said, “Clean yourself away;
there’s no room for you here.
People need this space: children and men.”
But it was never a question, never a decision.
One day you just wake up
and wonder, “Where have I gone?”

Do you remember when you were ten;
back when you were huge;
when you were a dancer, a soccer player;
when you made boys play house
and mom was the most sought after role?
Do you remember when you cut out
huge construction paper hearts
and scrawled I Love You
in bold, black letters?

It starts when as a teenager
women starve themselves for Twiggy idols.
It starts when being beautiful
means everything. If you were just prettier.
When does finding a man become
the biggest obsession? When do women start
thinking, “If I had just been more understanding,
tried harder, persevered longer,
he would have loved me. . .”

When do women start scurrying
themselves away;
when do women start becoming smaller;
when do women start putting
themselves away in the backs of drawers
and shoe boxes under beds;
when do women start creeping into corners;
when do women start living
in small spaces.

(c) Kimberly Simms 1997

Fortune Tellers

Fortune Tellers never look like you expect
them to. This one has hair sprayed blonde bangs,
purple eye shadow, and boulder-sized amethyst
rings. The room smells of country rose.

Last time it was a middle-aged black woman,
natural with short hair and beige fingernails.
She wore feather earrings and whispered,
"Stop punishing yourself." This is common.

Fortune tellers often urgently grab your wrist
as you descend steps to impart an ambiguous
shred of direction. Dad likes to have his cards
read, while I prefer palm readings. Life lines

and crease counting reminds me of cartography.
We avoid the ones with crystal balls and hoop
earrings. Wearing a purple turban is suspect
in our books. Fortunes change constantly.

Fortune Tellers are like weathermen.
It doesn't always rain, but carrying
an umbrella never hurt anyone.

First published in Eclipse.