Issue 16: Dale Smith


SEND BOXED MAPLE WATER TO DRENCH hot fever. Speak as if breath sated satin twine, a twin leap into loaded sleeplessness. Woodsy boots and stolen yarn, a global wreath of stitched urgency. Claim rain’s clear vanishing. Euro traffic in embedded push, inherit heady swords dividing words. Sound lived ghost lives in loss, a plosive pop brushing lips.

        In the era of marks and racial allegiances, pursue no dreamy compliance. Thrift sucks, but tucked up in tight fists ancestors breathe through fallen leaves. Purple edge stills vibrant spatula. Angles of turquoise glass, cork tips sweetening gripped broccolini.

        Shape of leaves, narrow bronze stocks tangling and undoing sweated labor. Put phonemes in pyramid schemes, holy matter’s muddy tolerance. Old man’s creamy skin and baggy thighs. Grassy vision blossoms fertile cries in a tomb. When I was married in my widow’s veil, blackbird feet tore his voice. A pile of fangs, coffee, joists of holiday lights. Celebrate a match of desert rocket. Image feigns stimulus gains, peak of winter socks darned mechanically. See here, taste a leaping out. 

WEAK ANKLE DANGLES IN WET GRIP. A child sucks milky lymph springs to sire wiry lyre strings. Like a pattern of sky in Mali. Wooden Santa wobbles magnetically. City sun brightens fall exposures. Close rites since early dawn crying for crossing, lips threaded in barbed rust. Tire relentless frays passages. As if to find one’s place. Fraction of time. A courted threat threads and then gives out. Visible daughter invisibly frets below hero’s naval.

        Steam pot purposes glean. Simple agitation, common clods cloud. Space vibrant pods, fall leaves copper and bronze distills in buried fade. Temporal things, colored and gone to begin again. I play dumb in some instances. Listen to how far one ran from playtime center. Hear a cycle of red, contend.

TO BREECH SKY’S DUSKY CHILL, linger under lengthening sweepers. Seasons vibrate emotive quills, standard lusts to ransack. Like a softened metaphor, mimetic stick or theft. Endure in time’s relevance. Order haphazard word, animal-like codes on durable anti-codes. Focus a single point of grass, a large room pulsing with Strongbow patrons. Pink delivery of wheel-spins. Sad eyes and eyes still to see streetlights come on with. Press one’s self, othering color manifolds, a plucked system tangled by what you bring directly here. I send material spirit ghosts across American distance. Black voices in woody compost origin. Unsettled mind trees, birch or elm emblems of how recession raves.

        Anterior to wide corridor, thumping bass rhythm by EXIT reflecting red. Look for a feminine surprise in his seeing. Unexpected clash of metal, radiant pathways in pine shadows under goat moon. Yank Italian shades. Stand forlornly proud in blank manliness. A river unwinds in her mouth where voices carve a disoriented grey of vines glowing. Elaborate modern neon-green.

        Hard balance of sight unsteadies focus in pear’s wobble. Dead leaves rot in wet muck, marry grim lord of golden mulch. These years belong to no one, not even a beautiful child who awkwardly tenders her youth. A false given or voice, to settle with loss or the bright orange of a sapphire dome. In a planetarium there spins a husky hunter. Lies soften his hard blow, magnify a long reach of touch. I turn toward a way of saying that won’t give. As if to settle on beginnings and not step again into a piney path of pink sand. Bull nettle stings. A child rides flat ridge or shoulders roughly ahead. A woman, an egg. Spiritual bone thrust in mineral orbit. Half moon inky blue in her hand.

        Where illusion leads projected image flickers on thin time sheets. Give your yellow hide to feral claims. A fist and truck stalls by denim stretch. Cold north pockets feel elbow mud going down. To sing bardic grass leaves tingling slender nursing voice. Suck full nipples, warm sweet milk pacing her cheeks. Nerve or protein chance to narrow grave. Up and wall’s rocky top sounds stoic yawps. Sparrow’s morning cravings linger in shadowy seeds. Bead a worried arc in ordered brow. Down to wave, surround.

Dale Smith is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent of which is Slow Poetry in America (Cuneiform, 2014), and has published essays, reviews, and criticism, including Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960 (University of Alabama, 2012). Originally from Texas, he now lives in Toronto, Ontario, where he is a professor of rhetoric and modern and contemporary poetics at Ryerson University.


Copyright © 2016 by Dale Smith, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.