by Maggie Smith
I will tell you about the naked oak in our yard and about
my dead robin, June, who couldn’t fly south for winter
and about the Cooper’s hawk that swooped down to eat
the poor thing, pecking first at a dull eye, while close by
two cracked eggs, each the size of a large jelly bean,
lay oozing yolk and about the cold sky pulled thin and
plumed across my low horizon and about Hyena, with
his pail full of silver buckshot, who shouted from across
the avenue, “Wanna lick my lollipop, pancake tits?”
while behind him two fat boys cackled, with Br’er
Rabbit, the older by some years, in Daddy’s pink shirt
and about mother leaving for the City, her thin
lips painted plump, and about my gray lunch
congealing in a tin pan that sat on the top rack of a
cold oven and about the canned peaches she dumped
into a tea cup and placed on a shelf in her
refrigerator. But not yet and not here
Where do we go from here,
when it is nightfall,
when soon the cold stars will spin,
the moon will die again,
and the marsh peeper
will call out to his coy lover,
who may or may not appear?
Must I beg for that last drink of you,
that spilling grace,
or for the touch of
a cool hand?
Longing can become a dark dog
awakening briefly to an emptied bowl.
If I leave here tonight unwhole,
will a smaller god follow me,
A thin, naked
her lacquered nails down
and up the bedroom
window like a pointless
me we are the same
star stuff the same
sorrow the same
sackcloth of bones
and wails the same
hunger and heat
we hide from
“You know we love you. Right?”
Alone in her bedroom a young mother shouts,
“Don’t pretend you can’t hear me!” and smirks,
those teeth, front-gapped,
those eyes, dark and empty—
on the walnut nightstand sits
a drained bottle of bourbon,
beneath it an oval
burn mark the size of a
child’s scabbed knee.
By the pond a peeper
announces the arrival of
spring, his biology
unhiding a loin-longing
he cannot escape.
Try to hide sorrow in a dry poem
and all you’ll get is a line arrow
of razzle-dazzle pique
pointing down, down deep,
towards a brown road in
a flat state where the sky there
hangs half dull half billow
and no one gets up before noon
or goes out before the moon
rises over a straw-colored cat
stretched sleepless across
the lid of a metal can half filled
with balled-up paper and gristle scraps.
Baby tried not to cry,
her eyes still bulgy from a ten-day
binge on gin and tears
and sex with an uptown pimp
we’ll call Joe, who promised
a generous wad
of cash each week, a sapphire
ring, a Chevy Impala, a trip
to Acapulco, and back,
plus a condo with deck just outside Coral Gables
in exchange for a lie-down wherever and whenever he said
so. Seemed a better option, by miles,
than a tenement on the lower east side.
While her daddy diddled every big-breasted, boy-hipped secretary he
could get his hands on but married himself off to a little, brittle
chickadee from across the pond, who herself
had a taste for gin and also for Vegas craps
and kidney-shaped pools but not for the small dark girl
who followed her everywhere, nut-scampering and twitchy,
and dogged the silky retriever pup that ate soft sweaters,
then piddled in circles beneath the stairs.
Under a scorching sun they came from far flung
for daddy’s burning, the jackass penguins and their lah-de-dah crows,
but baby’s bones just got tumbled in,
with only a parched girl in black jeans, a lunatic aunt, and a few sparrows looking on.
Someone touches daddy’s coffin and sobs.
I throw a few rose petals into baby’s open grave.
You can still enjoy the music/dance videos after I remove them from the home page. I’ve put them all in one place. Just click on the “music/dance videos” tab at the top of the page — and ta-da. My poems are all in one place, too. Simply click on the “poems” tab, which is to the left of the “prose” tab.
A golden eagle glides
down a mountainside & midair
drops the oily serpent
she has been holding in her talons.
This is God telling us to worship the unseen.
A young man with black eyes removes his two shoes,
throws them into the street,
& gets down on his knees.
This is God saying that our fear will be our death.
A husband beats his bride because
she will not sleep in their bed.
This is God telling us our dark thoughts
will create a dark world for our children.
A moth beats its wings against a backdoor screen
& plummets to the pavement, exhausted:
There is no way in or out.
This is not God speaking.