By Michael T. Smith

Afterword: Or, the Amateur Poet

                You thought you gripped the future
When you only brushed the dust from your hands
and pinched earth’s prurient cheek
Like that of a chubby, just-born babe’s.

And like said infant, you only drooled out words
in secondhand emotions.
You ran your long fingers through Ophelia’s hair

                and even your clothes have a jeer.           

And though no one comes and walks in here,

it is somewhere you can go.

You stepped out of the room

While your book was written inside.

With a speech that doesn’t age gracefully
on the stone steps of an altar
to the pagan gods of memory.

Your page grows like mignonettes
steeped deeply in the shadows,
stretching past the table…not for greatness
but for something close to survival.

And Gómara maps a history,
Which is but a slave to the thin-lipped phrase:   
“I don’t understand.”
But all the fools trod along down the beaten path.

It is but
the image of inspiration
that struck you like a minor earthquake,
shaking the wall-decorations to only —
to only declare “I am here.”
(But bespoken through a dummy’s hole,
While the ventriloquist got distracted).

So what you have left in these
bare-pole winds
can only stand alone.
It marks not a presence
but an absence wider than big-mouthed chasm.

Everyone is so apparent to me,
so cry, cry just like a song out of the moon

Hang a Lake Out to Dry

Go hang a lake out to dry
The solstice downpour to decry
A summer night like any other
In copied perfection has no mother

The sun, the moon, the stars and more
Form a guest list at the host’s door
And all around the square planet
Young father time’s script reads ‘manet’

Teenage love inviting cynics teems
Holds the stage of a midsummer’s dreams –
For in the moment false and pretty
Calls nature to the alter of pious pity

Sensing the round table of poets past
Hang on the breeze of Aestas’ mast
The semen of memories archetypal
Roused with a stomach –based tickle

Uncle Martin’s Thrift and Discount

Winter winds can only tell lies.
Those charlatans of haughtily
Refined words.  Tell them to kiss
The sunrise and I and you and
Anyone who surmises a natural
Riddle translated from Helvetica
Will eat the tinniest words you’ve
Never Seen.  But alas, allow
That along alighted fields
Of the most natural study
That was ever rehashed:
The modern always comes again.

I Write Poems by Ear

I write poems by ear
On a music staff with squiggly lines unclear
In the shadow of a shadow
Arisen from Narcissus’ birth year
Pounded into the dirt fallow
I write poems by ear
Wrapped up in masking tape’s a kier
With all the colors of Dali’s crawling fear
In the shadow of a shadow
The sun blowing up like a balloon will jeer
It needs a new hip to borrow
I write poems by ear
For the sun rose twice one day near
Like a Lazarus of some nostalgia queer
In the shadow of a shadow
This is how a myth dies my dear
In a turpid sea o’ rehearsed smiles sallow
I write poems by ear
In the shadow of a shadow

All the world’s love letters to you

If bubbling forth, a fountain burst

Of ink black with liquidy girth,

Geyser of my heart’s form versed,

Marching through this fold and firth,

Stained watr’y clear this fount of mirth,

With silver clouds, of ink droplets,

Who reign o’r my Maid of Birth,

By soaking these parched outlets,

Then paged lines, this stream overflows

To populate worlds from e’ry source

While in papered towers goes

My drenched flood along this course.

Quaff a draft of this bright sunshine

– Your glance non-distilled freely give –

To eye these mirrored words of mine

And spin your dear mind pensive

On vows writ of many faces,

But each and every, one and true: 

Stone meaning in my spaces,

Endless streams of: “I love you!”

About the Author:

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue, where he received his PhD in English in May, 2014.  He teaches cross-disciplinary courses that blend humanities with other areas.  His poetry has been most recently published in Tau Poetry Journal, Eunoia Review, Taj Mahal Poetry Journal, Zombie Logic Review, and the Asahi Poetry Journal.  He also has critical work forthcoming in Symbolism and Cinematic.  He has most recently attended the 2016 CCCC conference as well as 2016 NeMLA conference.