Kim Harvey

the poet

Kim Harvey is a San Francisco Bay Area poet and Associate Editor at Palette Poetry. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. You can find her work in Poets Reading the News, Rattle, Radar, Barren Magazine, 3Elements Review, Wraparound South, Black Bough Poetry, Kissing Dynamite and elsewhere. She won The Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award 2019, and placed third in the Barren Press Poetry Contest in the same year.

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the poems

Standard Credibility Inquiry

for Displaced Plant Life

00:00 / 02:23

Are you now or have you ever been considered an invasive species?
How long can you survive in the desert without water? Have you ever
lied to the U.S. government? Are you lying now? You let me know 
if you need something to drink. To what fungi have you been exposed? 
Are you infectious? Do you carry contagions? Are you viable?
How much attention do you require? Are you wild? Tell me why
you are afraid of fire. What is your country of origin? Do you seek 
the shade of others? Do you plan to uproot established trees? 
How far back can you trace your seed? Are you a clone? Are you 
barren? Are you a weed? Will you reproduce incessantly and choke 
the perennials? Why were you harmed? When were you harmed? 
So you were witness to a violence. Are you damaged 
at the cellular level?  Under what conditions will you wilt 
or wither? How did you escape? And where have you been since? 
On whom or what do you depend? Are you a hallucinogen? 
Are you medicinal? Are you lethal to domestic animals or people? 
Can you be bought and sold? Are you illegal?
 

  And the Plant Answers Back [Redacted]:
 
(muffled, inaudible)
 
             …my sister was burned   part of me
 
 died too       I   don’t know how    I got out
 
          I will tell you    I flew
 
                                      I was a samara on the wind
 
      I can still feel her 
            like a phantom limb
 
[    ]  I could   [      ] smell her  [         ] singed skin [       ] 
 
raining down 
     around me
 
 [ -------- ] Even now    I hear her
 
                                                     howling

Light & Shadow

The best way to know God is to love many things.

  
~ Vincent Van Gogh ~

00:00 / 02:17

A hawk takes a snake in its 
     talons, flies to the top of the trees, 
aspens I think, above the canyon.
 
Can we agree the snake is dead now?
     Your words, shards from a broken 
vase I turn over in my hands, 
   
crush fine like millet into the fallen 
     leaves. Stop brooding on the form 
of things. Think of Van Gogh.
 
Modest blue room. Towel hung 
     on a nail by the door, bowl 
and pitcher, water if you’re thirsty –
 
absinthe green spilling in 
     through paned glass like a sickness. 
Loss, a lamp lit long ago.
 
Wasn’t it you who told me blue 
      was the last color to be named
in every language? Show me 
 
again in moonlight the hollows
     of you – the places where your body
starts and stops. I remember you
 
told me about Van Gogh, how he ate
     yellow paint 
to try to get the light inside him. How
 
when he died his body was laid out 
     alongside easels and brushes 
in a room full of yellow dahlias 
 
and sunflowers. How, in the end,
     it wasn’t just the light he was after. 
What he wanted was to drink 
 
turpentine, to choke on black 
     cadmium and lead.
What he really wanted was to die  
 
eating his paints, breathing them in, every
     color, all of them – orange, sienna, crimson, 
ochre, gypsum, lapis, gold, cobalt blue.

Winter Solstice Incantation

00:00 / 01:00

Snapdragon petals, pink and yellow, rose hips, gold 
paint chips tossed over my shoulder. Hellebore
 
and phlox, candles to burn through the long pitch-black.
This spell’s being cast at last light and you’ll come back 
 
through the mirror’s crack like Lazarus from the dead 
tonight if I can just find the right words. Close and closed
 
what you were to me and a door slammed shut between 
this world and the next. Outside, a wild wind whips   
 
through the trees, whispering its warning—what’s done 
cannot be undone. Slippery as winter ice, you’re gone. 

Publishing credits

Standard Credibility Inquiry for Displaced Plant Life:

  Poets Reading the News
Light & Shadow:
 The Comstock Review (Fall/Winter 2019)

  Winner of the Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest 2019 

Winter Solstice Incantation: Black Bough Poetry

© original authors 2020

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