Kimberly K. Williams
Kimberly K. Williams is the author of two books of poetry, Sometimes a Woman (Recent Work Press) and Finally, the Moon (Stephen F Austin UP). She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas El Paso. Kimberly was shortlisted for the University of Canberra's Vice-Chancellor's Poetry Prize in 2019, and serves as the director of the University of Canberra's Poetry on the Move Festival. She is originally from Detroit, Michigan.
The Swallows Are Chasing
And the swallows are chasing God,
skimming green pools, edging the cliffs,
building their nests in the O of his name.
The swallows are chasing God, and I am
chasing the swallows as far as my flat feet
and wingless back will carry me: around
the fat cottonwood, over the gravel,
across bridge to El Rito, past the bear
spotted here sign, almost to the tip
of the massive ruby sky.
The child works on printing, the fat black
crayon marking paper the color of the sun.
Upper case letters align like soldiers:
G G G G G G G G G
J J J J J J J J J J J J J
But lower case letters mis-
behave, reverse and drift: d d d d d b d d d b
p p p q q p p p p p q
She gets the first letter of her name
right every time: K K K K K K K K K,
but the last letter is tricky. Which way
to extend the leg on the v? And she wonders if
F is supposed to blow west
or east. Each letter forces finger
cramps. Her mother patiently
insists—again, again—already teaching
the child the mystery of birth: the great
unease which leads to unwavering
devotion. Late one night, she accelerates
through the dark, rounding the curves
of San Juan Boulevard, reminding
her of the crayon tracing loops and filling
empty paper. She sees words
carved from darkness. All
that time at the antique desk
scraping shapes into letters, learning
reverence: letters to words, words to love.
St. Anthony of Padua, 1750, Spanish, Unknown Sculptor
St. Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost
things, why are your hands
empty? You stare at the air
around them in wooden-eyed
surprise. Your face is still
young, part tree, part poly-
chrome glaze. Your five
o’clock shadow frames
red lips. But your hands,
St. Anthony, your hands,
only two thumbs and two
fingers intact, pointing
upward, with fingernails
the size of a baby’s.
you are everywhere for me:
at home on my altar, in Kiev
underground, on a card
slipped into my wallet, or
helping me find my eye-
glasses in the grass in the side
yard, and in the museum, inside
the plastic case at the end
of the hall, your hands
aloft, waiting to see
What I Carry
How to bring a young boy into this shadowy
world when he is full of such light? I offer
options: You could pray to St. Michael. You could
pray to St. Andrew, your patron saint. Or you could
pray to St. Anthony. He’s for kids. But my go-to
saint is St. Francis: Make me a channel
of your peace. But this boy doesn’t accept
the options claiming he doesn’t know how to pray,
can’t even start. And I can’t explain what
I know. We only have what we carry.
In the 1970’s, St. Brigid’s ceiling exposed bluebirds
and a naked Adam hovering in loin cloth. I inspected
the baby-angels’ penises weekly. The ceiling was wide
as the sea, and I floated on it buoyed by Russell Robinson’s
voice, which commanded we Sing it over! rocking my seven
year-old body, rattling my ribs, vibrating my arms when
we raised them during the last part of the Our Father,
and the adults beside me would pull me almost off the floor:
For thy is the king-dom--and the power--and the glor-y--
For ev-er, we sang. Ah-men. Mr. Robinson’s voice
has resided inside me ever since, the deep resounding
I have never heard again, not in forty years, reminding
me of the lift and lilt of grace and how to manage what I carry.
"The Swallows Are Chasing" was shortlisted for the University of Canberra’s Vice Chancellor Prize and published in its 2019 anthology.
"Grace" and "What I Carry" were previously published in Finally, the Moon (Stephen F Austin UP, 2017).
"St. Anthony of Padua, 1750, Spanish, Unknown Sculptor" was originally published in a small ekphrastic anthology, Poetry and Prose for the Phoenix Art Museum
(Four Chambers Press, 2015).
Natalie Rae-Fern Koh
A student, Natalie Rae-Fern Koh enjoys studying the humanities and pursues poetry, music and art on the side. As a member of the community, she hopes to use her skills to effect positive change and engage her peers in issues pertinent to society and the heart.
Sunlight makes the body bare,
lays our hearts transparent before all.
Like the frosted panels of a church, skin
is but a thin veil over our hollowness.
In the empty vase of the body we fester in
sin; we soak in our bitter sick.
A cry for wholeness sounds something like this:
when worship chafes against the throat;
when we lay prayers down like tiles
in a snaking and eternal mosaic;
when confessions flow out in the dark
Like a hymn: slow and honest.
The past two years have been war
against this Judas of a body.
On Christmas each family gathers,
huddled in nests spun from the warmth of
stories. Today is the day they tell the Nativity.
We have lost control over how it is told;
it is stale like the prayer we offer up.
This year, there is no room for a shiver of sorrow.
We do not repent. There are no surprises here.
The Maker’s love easily slips from one’s gaze,
passes through the wind. I flounder forward
like flotsam in a tempest, searching for
words to stitch together into wings
for my heart to make its way upwards,
to soar closer to the sun.
But who says birds are any more free than we are?
Do I forget freedom
in order to fly?
"Flight" first appeared in CAP 30th Anniversary Commemorative Publication.