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.
Standard Credibility Inquiry
for Displaced Plant Life
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]:
…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 [ ]
[ -------- ] Even now I hear her
Light & Shadow
The best way to know God is to love many things.
~ Vincent Van Gogh ~
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
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.
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.