I am smashed against you in the stinking crevice
of a back room in some haven of skeptical antiques.
We ravel mouth in the gray of the stupefied past,
blot estival steam, slow-pump hips until stone
and porcelain quiver. We stop to stroll, affecting
a grasp of rhinestone brooches, we spritz our hands
with spit, scrub breath into grimy daguerreotypes.
We browse, sneeze, and sneakingly swap spittle
while avoiding the storming glower and bulged
cerise lips of the mammy dolls. Laquered mute,
they screech their awful lessons of Jesus and dust.
It’s On You
down a mountain
ripping your own body
open with the thick thunderous
fingers of weather. Beginning to die
is hearing growls at the paper gate
of heaven, and laughing uproariously at the gag.
The joke’s on you, tumbler, mountain climber, hurricane eye.
It’s on you, crazed searcher, almost angel, goddamned liar, bleeder.
I Bet You Looked Beautiful
when you were pregnant, you say, and again
I dream myself bulging with river, feel my calves
muscle with odd weight. You’d collect blooms,
raging chocolates, scraps of Neruda, to bring home
to me, where I’d lay on my side in our bed, naked
and amazed by errant flow. Sweet bumbler,
you’d make a mess of our bleached floral sheets.
I would carry your child unbridled, bared
to the horror, and then to the damned sun again.
Patricia Smith is that rare poet who has succeeded in both the
realms of spoken word and published poetry. A powerful performer,
she is a four-time National Individual Grand-Slam Champion
(an unsurpassed achievement). Her work has appeared in such
prestigious literary publications as Poetry, Paris Review,
Best American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies,
and she has been a National Book Award finalist for poetry.
Patricia Smith’s poetry collections include Shoulda Been Jimi
Savannah (2012); Blood Dazzler (2008); Teahouse of the Almighty
(2006), chosen for the 2005 National Poetry Series; Big Towns,
Big Talk (2002); Close to Death (1998); and Life According
to Motown (1991). ~ bio courtesy of Dodge Poetry