Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

My Name


1.  My name, Kelsey

meaning the wind off an island

sometimes an ocean breeze, shade

under lank palm to cool the sun

sandy day


Sometimes ferocious, cold chop

storm whipping fast into a hurricane

a name being choked out

as each island—


Rare bird feather, tropical fruit grove

volcanic stone, desert, hundred-year-old

tortoise shell, buried treasure—sinks

into the waters of a rising ocean


My name now a warning call, Kelsey!

extinguished as all this earth drowns.


2.  I wonder what the name is

for the wind that’s generated by

the combustion of bombs, or the name

for wind over a newly dug grave


I wonder what the name is

for the wind that kicks up a dust,

and the wind that comes drifting

heavy with mist.  I wonder if

there is a name for the wind that first

compels a given bird to fly. Or

the name for the wind that is heavy

with the sound of bees, migrating.


The name for spring’s first wind

and fall’s.  The name for the wind

with the first snow, the first rainbow

of the year.


I wonder what the name is.  If

there is a name.  Like Bullwazzle.

That’s the name of the wind

that blows on April Fool’s Day.



Cornswaple, that’s the name

for the harvest wind.  And Moonswine,

that’s the name for the wind

with a superstitious streak.  And

Burdleberry.  That’s the name

of the wind that’s for best picking

wildflowers in.  And, during the first rain

of the year, Thenakedrun is the name

for the wind drummed up by the thumping

wet bodies of hundreds of UC Santa Cruz

students running, around campus in only

their sneakers.

Coddletint, always comes before

Lightning. And Crapdangit, Crapdangit!

the wind that makes technology

go haywire.  A Hoozananny,

is the best wind for swapping

a bottle of wine around in.

Punperpancake, the wind that smells

of waffles and beckons brunch.


I want to know the names,

all the names, and fly a kite in them,

every day that I can.

Kelsey Bryan-Zwick (she/they) is a bilingual poet from Long Beach, California.  Disabled with scoliosis, her poems often focus on trauma, shedding light on this isolating experience.  Her poems can be found in Spillway, Trailer Park Quarterly, and Cholla Needles.  A Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net nominee, her first full-length book of poems, Here Go the Knives, is to be published by Moon Tide Press in January 2022.

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