Poems by Kimberly Reyes

Image courtesy of Ángel Hernansáez. Shared via a Creative Commons license.


“Your last name is Reyes … is your husband Spanish?”

In Lonestar, SC
the struggle
in the scorched soil
recognizes me.

There’s no denying its place
or who inhabited

this space.

In Salinas, Puerto Rico I converse with with El Sol,
the agave and plantain
invisible under their blades, his shade.

I crave his warmth,
but never sit in the sun


Hype Women

Who lied about femininity?
They love us as pitbulls
Pets, if we grow a tough, dark skin
Plump it up
Every pound deepens our voices
And the void between who we are
And what we want to be
When did they hand out the choice to do that?

Who lied about size?
We own less space than slightest
manic pixie dreams
Eyes still shut and yelping
When did we grow up?
When were we allowed to be children?

Who lied about redemption?
We can’t save you
There are no lines to throw
From boats we don’t own
Over shores we should have drowned in

Who lied about boundaries?
Fat and scar tissue make the worst shields
Dulling borders no one obeys
We don’t obey

Who lied about love?
We can’t get there
We can’t get smaller
Absorbing all light
Swallowing the slights
And fleeting attentions
Who lied about intentions?


The Stage

I can’t, with people disappearing
the one thing I can’t do
and want to
all the time.
I imagine licking freedom
melting into a Dairy Queen line,
in Kansas,
without the glares and
sugar-white gaping stares of

———don’t jaywalk. don’t speedwalk. don’t talk, back.
———signal. lights across the median. shift. brake. stay five miles under the limit.
———don’t make any sudden movements.
———don’t watch them watching you.
———pray the cashier doesn’t forget to take off the alarm.
———leave the store, slowly, receipt out, just in case. in case.

I imagine the airy walk of whiteness
and the ability to exist
in the world
as a part of it,
a member of the audience.

Instead of waxing under lights:
perform grace
tame lightheadedness
crystallize the face

tend to the stage,
as the price
of entry
to the show.


Holding Pattern

Negotiable inconsistencies
You explain, brush off
Like backwards rain
Slinking up an inhaling windshield

But now you’re clean
And out of excuses
Everyone wants to be seen
They always tell you…

Even a proclaimed sociopath left

All his eggs in a basket
Weaved by your door
Silent, insatiable hatchlings

That moment they cease
Being the real thing

It’s not your fault

You’ve been telling me that

It makes no sense you’re not
More gunshy
With all the smoke

Sifting through
Your wake
The dense distractions that don’t
Bear weight

You want to sleep through this part
And they aren’t trying to hold you
In place


A piece of him

———-We had our own silent agreements,
———-the two Tauruses of the house.
———-Bulls in our elaborate home of china,
———-we stayed moving: stomping,
———-shouting, darting devotions in dare and deed.

———-His hearty tuna sandwiches,
———-our daily conversation,
———-normally made my feet tap,
———-dance under the table.
———-All tang, a potency,
———-a precise imbalance
———-my mother could never master.

And one afternoon, the red star
suspended in Kelly green,
the cap, pierced, like a starfish
caught in cryosleep,
temporarily absorbing all sound,
fell out of my brown lunch bag,
in a crop of crinkled brown lunch bags,
slinky hunched, on the Senior Lunch Bench:

Turkey, tomatoes, capers, cheese
prudence, post-its, grooming, guidance
arugula, rye, white bread, wheat.

Our home, opened.
The clank of asphalt, metal
that day,
that Heineken top
dropped out.


Kimberly Reyes is a William Dickey Fellow and MFA candidate in poetry at San Francisco State University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist WireThe Acentos Review, Columbia Journal Online, and in Yemassee, New American Writing, Transfer, and Belleville Park Pages. She is a past fellow at the Poetry Foundation, Callaloo, and Watering Hole. She has been a featured reader at numerous Bay Area events including Beast Crawl, Litquake, MFA Mixer 2.0 and for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.