Kimberly White

World/Red Hot Chili Peppers/The Getaway

After Kevin Peterson’s painting “Coalition II”


  1. The Getaway


It has to start this young, way young: when you’re born knowing how to read this graffiti. When you’re born under the malevolent hand that holds the spray can.  When your little-girl sexyboots are already worn out from walking this walk.  When those rotted patches don’t cover anything, don’t fool anyone.  When you’ve already learned how much a misplaced step can hurt.  When you’re born ready to walk alone and still, you know to keep your eyes down.


eyes down like a smart girl you can see what aims to trip you, you learn you can still see up still see around eyes down, but they don’t see in


You don’t need to see their eyes to know their hearts, you can feel their fallen angels shadow your bootsteps


Take up your own spray can but invisible, anonymous


it’s your only shield



  1. Dark Necessities


He needs to draw blood, he needs to lacerate my soul and drain me weak


I need to fondle his gun I need to fantasize his death I need to see that bullet tear him down I need to write spells that send him to hell I need him out of my hell I need to master his tongue and hang him with it


in my hell you need bear claws crow eyes racoon wit fox mind serpentine senses

viper fangs


this is the bible I spraypaint on their walls



  1. We Turn Red


It comes in secret and there it stays, because blood is weakness in predator eyes


the red door opens only to me, my bear claws sharpen on red steel my crow eyes see what hides behind other doors


now my graffiti bible drips red and my blood is reinvented, it is continuously reinvented



  1. The Longest Wave


How is this my home how are these my origins when I am alien?


Alien or no, I walk in step with the light and the dark, take care to remain in between.  Yea though I walk in shadows, shifting bear tracks, trickster tracks lead me with teeth bared.


My scars take flight on crow wings, return to doctor my dreams, to strangle my voice, to shade my walk


to filter the reflective light to show my face as a bruised mask of hooded eyes branded with waves of florescent, incandescent, neon lights and the drowning lights of stars overcome by urban flares


Alien, adept, the scent of fear hides in waves of graffiti fumes, the breath of forgotten garbage, and the stench of the unwashable



  1. Goodbye Angels


There is nothing angelic in this dark only the stumbling blocks of hell


the outer walls speak in tongues of dominance, degradation, painted shades of anger, colorful pain


inner walls too shy to speak, cowed by the death knell which has rung since these streets were born


the psalms of my graffiti bible sing discordant hymns, the choir of this pealing paint has strayed from false gods to darker heavens, if that is what I may call my own branch of hell



  1. Sick Love


What I love is the sight of spray can droplets on my worn-out boots, the sight of my psalms on degraded walls, the bootstep tattoo of my solitary walk, the patterns of shadows of metal gates and dungeon doors, the siren songs floating up from corrupted undergrounds, the purified blues of impure musicians, the erotic wasteland which haunts me whether or not I dream, the exotic mythology it breeds, the bloody stains and chalk outlines of gods just passing through, what is sick about that?


What is sick is his razor wire leash


This hurts me more than it hurts you, he says, I wouldn’t hurt you if I didn’t love you, he says, you know how much I love you, he says, let me show you how much I love you, he says


when love makes your skin crawl when love leaves teethmark scars when love makes your breath stink with hate how is that love?



  1. Go Robot


To turn it off you can never turn it off to smother it drown it, it will always bleed through


assimilation, decontamination, the letters change but they spell the same spells


I obey like a robot but it doesn’t fool him he wants what I can’t turn off


it fools others enough to refine my skill enough to map out tracks outside his razor

wire walls


just another art to perfect in this artless home



  1. Feasting the Flowers


They grow in dreams in visions, through distorted cracks where there is no hope of bloom


I draw them as code words in diaries which should be filled with naive gossip and boycrush dreams but which bloom instead with flowers shaped like bruises, pollen- stained hieroglyphs standing in for indictments


This my secret bible, my hidden tongue, testimony sworn and unimpeachable by any higher hands


This fetid field sucks the sun from your eyes the green from the trees


withered petals cupped in my hands swirl and scatter, crumble into powder bits of faded shades


pigments for my letters, my psalms and hymns on dirty scraps disguised as throwaways



  1. Detroit


There is a glory, a mythic time that never was, that’s where he lives


It is he who lays waste to this land, his bulldozer always fueled in gear, salting the ground against all but his own verse


the charm of his church rings true/false, true/false, a lopsided and broken bell struggling to ring under chalk outlines and patched concrete and drowned out by urban jazz



notes half full of grace by helicopter hymns in castrati voice by terrified screams from next door by ecstatic moans between torn blankets by the fight of life to overcome the curse of birth by the sound of my boots making tracks of my own



  1. This Ticonderoga


don’t know what to do with this Ticonderoga


it takes itself off without me I don’t know where it goes but the legend it writes gets back to me


it fights on without me brings back drawings of the battlefield on which I died in last night’s dream, there it is under my pillow as if it never left


my spray can writes one bible this Ticonderoga writes quite another my outward show of strength opposing my internal bleed


sharp lead opens flesh like a razorblade, leaves graphite scar tattoos, crosses I will always bear, bells that will never stop ringing


grinds me to dust fine as ash



  1. Encore


dragged my worn-out boots over this diseased concrete one too many times, I say each time I walk, read the same graffiti that changes but never changes even the crows look bored, we’ve seen enough here


back and forth and around the maze still can’t fight my way up


but I smell it closer, there’s a door somewhere I’ll find the key


while these walls close tighter the razor wire chokes my breath shreds new scars over old


can’t help my bloody footprints so he still finds a way



  1. The Hunter


The bear that walks beside me, I created her from Bearmother myths and star-based dreams, I created her to be my shield


The racoon in my shadow made of trickster clay and rattle bones, created to shift the shape of my footprints


The fox who runs point, born of sensory spirits who have run myriad worlds in and out of dark and in and out of time, born to be the rod and the staff that comforts me


Crow on sentry, the beady black eye of the otherworlds, the one who sees through these walls the one who sees the world I crave


Our coalition hunts with the impatience of a prisoner born inside high walls, with the desperation of the wounded and the starved



  1. Dreams of a Samurai


Silent I walk now, grownup boots skilled in the navigational arts of this dream


where he will never find me where he can never penetrate or steal from me where the razor wire keeps him confined


I hunt for the dream where he doesn’t exist


for the arrows that will kill him


when I make my getaway.


Kimberly White’s poetry has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, cream city review, Big Muddy, Dark Matter, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of four chapbooks, Penelope, A Reachable Tibet, The Daily Diaries of Death, and Letters To A Dead Man; two novels: Bandy’s Restola and Hotel Tarantula. Find poetry and collage art on her website,, as well as on Facebook, and various refrigerator doors.

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