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May 5, 2017 | Poetry

Five Poems

Bud Smith

Five Poems photo

Blast Furnace


Eating falafel at Ibby's in Jersey City.
Drinking a seltzer. Just got my hair cut.

My barber shaves his head now.

I don't know. My days are wide open.

I'm working night shift 7 pm till 3 in the morning.

In the moonlight, we are welding patches
on the side of a blast furnace that is still running.

The furnace is taller than the building I live in.
And when I open one of the tiny observation doors
on the side of the furnace, I can look inside
to watch the flames, roaring, rolling, spitting.
It’s just like the Internet.

And at any fine second, the world may suddenly end.

But right now, I’m sitting next to an ATM machine
listening to an Islamic woman sing something so beautiful
I can’t even begin to guess what it is.

It could be, that we will all look the same as a pile of ash.
Or it could be, that you love something more after it is taken away.
Or it could be, just that this sweet daylight cannot be held back.

Watch the light soak through the plate glass window
and give life to everything that wants it.

Carefully I remove the hard pit from a green olive
with my tongue and dull teeth.

In the reflection, I look like a faded version of myself with a fresh, lousy haircut.

Just like you, I am all powerful, even though I feel far from it.


Postcard From the Corner Bodega

Hello,

Don’t stare directly into the sun or at your ATM balance. Help a child cross the rushing river or the subway tracks.

Redirect the wild elephants stampeding through our neighborhoods. Close the door after you reach in for red, white, and blue ice cream. All the fat lotus will be stomped away into dust if not for you.

HEADLINE ON TODAY’S PAPER! Everything we worried about yesterday has these bigger American teeth now, has these eyes with pupils like whirlpools. It’s fine to lean into the dragon’s mouth and rip a tooth out. Flag down a friend, have them rip one out, too.

If you are still frightened in the foggy morning, please remember, a tiger does most of its hunting at night, and a piano can do no damage falling out a window on one thousand people in the streets with their hands up as one force.

To be alone is just to be temporarily in between modes of terror or joy, because there is no one to give you a scientific method for your heart. Have some jasmine rice. Suck a lime. There’s pizza all over the world. Or at least they try.

I’ve made a donation to the tin can at the register that is raising money to end the bombings that happen everywhere.

Okay, I’m late for work. Going to the oil refinery now. But believe me, 173rd street is different without you. This place swells extravagant when you are here and shrinks into nothing as you leave.    
 
                       Love to you,
                                     Bud


Gathered Here Today For This Thing Called Life

There are two sides to the coin.
One side of the coin is empathy.
The other side is blank, shiny like a mirror.

Please paint your door red, so the Angel of Death
flies right past, doesn’t take away our future.

I have placed an amulet over your sleeping body
and the amulet says: "You can pick you friends
but you can't pick your family. You can pick your frenemies. You cannot pick your famenemies or enemyfamily."

It's a big amulet but it's important.

Remember, there’s a light emitting from you and it's not just your cellphone.

The Internet is a scorched wasteland.
But you've walked through worse places
on your way to work.

But beware 9000 notifications kicking you awake from your dream. Instead, just keep dreaming.

And never mind a human heart stuffed into a cannon and shot at the owner of the heart who is already dead anyways.

It may be that we all be trying to scoop handfuls of honey out from between crags of volcanic rock but we can't quite reach it.

But somewhere out there, a person wants to connect over drinks, then go back to their place to show you their honey, their volcanic rocks, their crags. Go for it.

None of us will be retweeted by Sleeping Beauty.

It's the time of year where the colossal blankets of blackbirds cover the entire sky. Also when the mystery caves fill up with dollar store bubbles.

I wish I could take all your pain and mix some co2 in it
infuse your bubbly pain with some fresh berries
and splintered ice, and drink it.

Then I wish I could take all my pain
and mix carbon dioxide in it, infuse my bubbly wubbly pain with wild cherries and crushed ice, have you drink it for me.

We could help each other.


Some Statues I Know

1

Back in the olden days the soldiers used to come around and war hammer our statue's heads off. Nowadays we just make our bronze statues headless because it's cheaper. Heads are expensive.


2

a headless statue
was once a person turned to stone
for thinking a dangerous thought

but if you look carefully on the ground
maybe you’ll still find little shards of skull

pieces small as pebbles
each pebble part of someone

if you carefully glue it all back together
just like that, the head is a head again
and falls back on the shoulders
those eyes will roll right open

and the smiling mouth will sing you
a history of what they were thinking
when the regime changed
when God stopped being a joke
when everyone's blood became coins
and the coins could be fed into a slot.


3

I am just a person
trying to stay out of the rain

so I have stepped inside this museum
because the raindrops bounce off its roof
and go away, in some engineered rush
towards the canals, the causeways, the sea

I am no scientist
but even a dog knows to stay out of the rain
and I am not a dog


4

the messenger of Zeus, with wings out wide
has landed on a cliff of slippery soapstone
she’s come to deliver the good news
about the end of the world
and Zeus is thrilled to hear it
but when Zeus looks over at his messenger
he’s very much wounded

because, well, looky looky here
Victory too, is now missing her head
and cannot speak a word

and just yesterday I saw the goddess of love
and both of her arms had been broken off
by Tinder dates who refused to let go
when their date was over.


Not A Single College Credit

happen to believe in love
that doesn’t tumble out of a vending machine
splashing in a puddle, rainbow swirled
and toxic

here I am trying, leaping tree to tree
here I am, hand over hand on power lines

touch the ground and die

here I am taking a break, eating a handful of peanuts
then washing my face in a gas station bathroom
now I am feeding my high school diploma
to a tired dog trying to sleep it off
in a doorway beneath a flickering light

hi everyone, I’ve never felt perfect
or classic or carved from precious stone
hi everyone, these are my hands
cupped full of clean water
and this is the dog drinking from the hands
before it walks out into the dark

before I climb another tree

before I scale the low lying clouds
to avoid the rush hour traffic
my work ID, swaying on my shirt
reeking of jet fuel

as I make my way back home
to you at the kitchen table
humming, so sweetly

your heart like a library card
slipped into my aching hands.  

 

image: Ryan Molloy


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