Friday, 7 December 2012

Solicited Poems by Mark Smith-Soto

Lost and Found

The way objects wait, how their patience shames
us! The loved comb lodged behind the console, years
yawn, presidencies tumble, irreplaceable dogs die
one after another after another, and still, still
behind the console, the same straight smile greeting
the dust of yet another winter, grooming each
disheveled morning with gentle teeth, the same
teeth that drew dark parallels, perfectly spaced
rivulets, the length of her long hair back when
she wore it long and pecan brown—why did
we have to find you when we already mourned
you? Ah, there you are! she cries, as if the years
meant nothing now, and all she had to do was
blow it clean and draw it through her hair.


Where is the beginning of this
thread I’ve found wound into my hair
on waking? All morning pulling at it,
gently, gently, wanting not to break
the story of it, tugging at a meaning
that would not mean completely, even
as noontime beamed with explanations.
Now evening relaxes at the core, and I
find I have unspun half of myself
into my hands, the thread a web, my
mind gone to gauze in a strange light.
Where is the end of this unspinning?
What is this freshness in the air?
What are these wings?

Night Watch

Chico whines, no reason why. Just now walked,
dinner gobbled, head and ears well scratched.
And yet he whines, looking up at me as if confused
at my just sitting here, typing away, while darkness
is stalking the back yard. How can I be so blind,
he wants to know, how sad, how tragic, how I
won’t listen before it is too late. His whines are
refugees from a brain where time and loss have
small dominion, but where the tyranny of now
is absolute. I get up and throw open the kitchen door
and he disappears down the cement steps, barking
deeper and darker than I remember. I follow
to find him perfectly still in the empty yard—
the two of us in the twilight, standing guard.

[published in Poetry East]


Mark Smith-Soto is Professor of Spanish and editor of International Poetry Review at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  He has published three prize-winning chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections to date, Our Lives Are Rivers (University Press of Florida, 2003), and Any Second Now (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2006).  His poetry, which was recognized with an NEA creative writing fellowship in 2005 and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, has appeared in Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Literary Review, Nimrod, The Sun and many other publications.  In 2010, Unicorn Press brought out his work of translation Fever Season, the selected poetry of Costa Rican writer Ana IstarĂº.  His most recent works are Berkeley Prelude: A Lyrical Memoir (Unicorn Press, 2012) and the chapbook Splices, due out next year from Finishing Line Press. 

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