Monday, May 25, 2009

A Poem by R.T. Smith


"I'll get it directly," she'd say, meaning
soon, meaning, when I can, meaning, not
yet, bet patient, the world don't turn upon
your every need and whim. Or "the dogs
will be back home directly, I reckon,"
"the preacher will be finished," "your daddy
will see you," "supper will be laid out"--
all "directly," which never meant the straight
line bewteen two surveyor's points or
an arrow's flight, but rather, by the curve,
the indirect, the arc of life and breath,
and she was right, and when she passed
or was passing, I could not say which,
in a patchwork quilt, the makeshift room,
the sweet hymn notes sung neighborly
across the hall, she whispered, "Learn to tell
what needs doing quick as a bluesnake
and what will take the slow way, full
of care and mulling, be fair in every
dealing with beasts and people and all
else alive, and surely, my dear, He will
come for you in His good time, the way
He comes for all of us, directly."

from The Oxford American, July/August 2003.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Collegiate Poetus (Family: Egotistae)

These aspiring writers,
gathered poets,
form like anthills,
busy workers
at political correctness,
carefully carrying granules
of dirt and scraps of metaphor.

They are everywhere,
crawling, darting
from sidewalk cracks
and coffee houses.
They congregate
on college campus malls,
can lift a hundred times
their weight in redundancy.

But be careful
how you wield that
hard, country sensibility
not to disturb their habitat,
their tiny burrows,
colonies of complacency.
Walk lightly when wearing
your thick-soled
brogans of criticism,
for open toes
bruise easily
in Birkenstocks.