Kimberly Williams


For Savion Glover
Starting out… after a reviewer ponders his refusal
to smile as a teenage dancer.

He threw the remains at me; but I didn’t eat and instead took a pen knife to slice rhythm from the hoof of a pig. I have an educated sweet potato shuffling soufflé rhythm, with a teaspoon of cumin branded with liquor. Don’t bother looking at my lips, because I will not grin. No, no accident in the womb, just a natural incentive to hide pearls. And please, even without the exploitation of teeth, I can rust any two thighs shut because:  I am nocturnally charming. My smile is pinstriped like that trumpeter who plays with his back towards the audience—miles and miles away—that’s where you will find it, underneath tar and peacock feathers. Yeah, my smile is connected to violence and hubris. You see, underneath my black lips are black bodies and because I respect the dead, you will not see them.  I am sorry for stringing up your shadow and flouring it in the face but in the past, too many people have belittled the word “blush.” One more thing, patronizing is a word of privilege. Hey you!  Turn around, and look at me dance over this skeleton called shame.


for Bill Kersands


I damn near tilt from the weight of my grin. 


My audiences are magpies, prim in brocade chairs. They lap me up, clapping louder than two feet chorus when I fill my mouth with billiard balls. These dimples are self-made. My face, a raspberry world wonder, my throat, shoved in amens that “negro men are a funny breed.”  I’m the color of your funny bone, fed so many tom-ing praises that I can’t shut my lips. Here I am:  sl-ap, a behemoth from Lovecraft’s quill. Here I go, potpourri from burnt cork and melted wax.  Here I am, darker than Friday’s shadows of whiskey and fish. Years from now, dancers will drop an anvil on my ghost:  they will turn their backs to the audience.  Some won’t even smile because acting pleased is foul.  A few will recreate my jig the pigeon wing because it’s hard scrubbing polish from underneath finger nails. There’s no point in walking upright; it will draw suspicion. But, I am change to this aristocracy of dance with a voice louder than tumbleweeds and a mouth that could swallow your hips. 


I am an omen.  I am a feathered resistance.

Kimberly Williams

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Kimberly Williams

Kimberly Williams is a southern poet from Virginia.  She has received her M.F.A. in poetry from Cornell University, where she presently teaches in the English department. Her current research includes the history of racialized trauma and its relationship to American dance. She has been published or forthcoming in Callaloo, Gulf Coast, Drunken Boat, As Us, and Philologia.