The following poems are from John Smelcer’s forthcoming volume of poetry, Raven, a collection he began in the mid-1990s with Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and widower of Sylvia Plath. It took more than two decades, but Raven is finally flapping into the world in 2019.
THE LAW OF ENTROPY
At the end of Time
the sun expanded
engulfing the inner planets
charring them to clinkers.
At the last moment
Raven escaped into the vacuum,
the last living thing on earth:
nothing left to eat
nothing left to steal
nothing left to torment.
Everything scorched. Everything burned;
the inglorious demise of one little Creation.
Directly, the blackness of the universe
absorbed the blackness of Raven—
nothing to n o t h i n g.
GOD APOLOGIZES FOR THE FLOOD
(RAVEN SEIZES AN OPPORTUNITY)
Raven was eavesdropping
the day God broke up with humanity.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” said God
trying to soften the imminent blow,
while waving a conjuring hand
to summon the darkening tempests.
Ever the price-gouger, Raven sold
life-preservers at ten times the going rate.
RAVEN WRITES THE EPITAPH FOR HUMANITY
& TAKES OUT A ‘FOR SALE’ AD
Billions suffered & perished,
but a few got rich along the way.
(They all died too, but what the hay!)
Requiesce in pace
One busted planet. High miles.
Rust-bucket. Leaks oil.
Restoration project or part out.
As is. No warranty. Make offer.
Will consider trades.
Raven wanted a pet
so he slogged into a fen
fashioned a fanglorious beast
from filth and slime and muck
named it Grendel
stropped its wicked claws and teeth
stroked its mudruckled fur
then pointed at Hrothgar’s unwary keep
& the gorged and grisly creature
with a heap of bones
THE MYTH-MAKERS IMBIBE
Crow and Ted Hughes walk into a pub
and each orders a pint of Guinness.
“So, what did you think of my book?” asks Hughes.
“Lies!” says Crow. “I never did any of those things.”
“Like hell!” exclaims Hughes.
“God save the Queen!” burps Crow.
“Bloody Bird!” yells Hughes.
“Bloody Brit!” shouts Crow.
“I love you, bloke,” says Crow.
“Right back at you, stupid git,” says Hughes.
Crow laughs hysterically.
Hughes falls to the floor.
And after the seventh round
the waiter stops bringing drinks.
John Smelcer is a former poetry editor of Rosebud.