Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Two Poems of Witness by Kamal Kimball and by Patrick Venturella

I’ve been thinking a lot about “Poetry as Witness” as I prepare to lead a workshop on the subject for The Hive on April 29. Here are two very different poems of witness, one by Kamal E. Kimball of Northside and the other by Patrick Venturella of Hyde Park.

This is one of those scenes a less brave person might turn her eyes from. I am grateful that this brave poet did not.


The bird contorts his oil silk neck,
strains against the black stain
of the man’s gloves as he’s pulled
from a tinted backseat. He fights
twists his wings, carried to the lip
of the January pond, his body
flopped to the cold bank.

He lifts himself on paper legs
shakes off the choke, and launches
his soft, waxy down into the water.
The man slinks back to the Lexus
collar up against my stare,
and rumbles off without a word.

The lone goose, out of season,
puffs his feathers, ruffles
like a worried king. His beak
is broken, chipped open. A thin
strip of wet pink dribbles

from his jawless mouth.

Kamal E. Kimball

Come hear Kamal read tonight along with other members of my From Draft to Craft Poetry Class, 7pm at Joseph Beth/Crestview Hills.


There is a wrenching tenderness in this poem by Patrick Venturella who, like several of our Poetry Month poets, is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League which offers a monthly critique workshop for its members.


your body is a bolt of sheer fabric
shot from a crossbow     unwinding

so thin it’s hard to understand
how to hold you     gentle

like a handful of raspberries     tight
like an arm on an icy sidewalk

at night television light seeps from your cracked
door     I can’t shut it but I want to

I want to brick you in and hang a young
picture on the tomb I’m     ready     please

die tonight so we can stop bending our lips
like question marks around the word love
Patrick Venturella

This poem previously appeared online in Rust+Moth.

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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