Poetry — April 24, 2014 10:34 — 2 Comments

Two Poems – Rich Smith


If you could reveal to me from beneath
the comforter your body, your romper corporeal,
if you could in one hand hold a sign
and in the other a complementary sign,
if you could also in Spanish with a wave,
even just a wave of your hand, perhaps
with a ticket for Tokyo in it, or if you could
in a small note tucked beneath a lamp in a Hilton,
if you could from your cheek remove
that first blush, from that mortar the spark
in that joyous July, from that sky a cloud
and with that cloud the whole sky,
if you could from the sea remove the sea
and in the drying sand beneath it
write in bold your NO, would it kill you?



There is a Japanese word for the way you fill up
a glass at the tap,

a word for the more morning the day doesn’t offer,

a word for the shape you wanted to leave at the edge of my bed,

a word—also Japanese—for the cut of the rope they loosen
to unmoor the ferry from the harbor,

a word for seeing the shore of departure thin and mist over,

and a word for yearning for the knowledge of that word.

In German there’s one for confusing
a bird with a squirrel shouting from a rooftop,

a verboten word in Belgian that, when spoken, releases a note
so blessed the speaker alternates

between laughter and masochism to combat the laughter
and then laughter to handle the pain of masochism.

In me, there is a word I need to say to you
to smooth the round where you ball up in me,

a word untranslatable, not quite no, probably
from the French for the smoke a fired synapse leaves behind,

or the Dutch for the traces of blue lace stuck to the spinner
after a cloud of cotton candy’s scraped out.

I am searching for it as if for my own arms.

But whatever the word from whichever the tongue, it will pass
as Yola passed, and Umbrian, Oscan, Etruscan, etcetera.

After all, a word didn’t smile and nab my last blueberry from across the table.
A word didn’t refill my mug with your mug.

It wasn’t a word’s shoulders I pressed into the mattress,
not a word that arched and sweat on a low thread count,

and it won’t be a word that knots your bindle to its stick,

that escorts you up the gangway and steadies your step
into your speechless dinghy and on your silent way.


These poems appear in Rich Smith's forthcoming book, All Talk, from Poor Claudia, which you can pre-order here.


  1. Rich–wonderfull images cascading throughout that second poem. A fine poem.

  2. Rich says:

    Thanks, Jim!

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney