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May 8, 2019 Poetry

2 Poems

A. Smith

2 Poems photo

Vapor of Breath

All hail Michigan Dogman. All
slobber and standing seven feet
tall, Michigan Dogman sounds

howls like he’s missing a muffler
yet we’re never quite sure if it was
him or the highway. Keep quiet 

you whisper at me. I want to hear
the Dogman sing. And I want to 
believe in a world, in a Michigan

where the Dogman’s low bellow
cuts like a last-ditch dagger through
the cloth of the night as it falls. 

But this evening again the joke’s
on us. Sitting here on the porch
I notice you’ve developed a rapid pant 

even before I turn to look and 
behold the dangle of a lolling tongue
out of your open maw. And I mean

behold: all seven feet of you shines
a silver not so often seen in this
peninsula. In all the excitement

I scramble and get stuck by a splinter
in the pad of my paw. It hurts like 
my mother always did each day dad 

didn’t come back or maybe more
like the harsh nights when he did.
I cry out in pain. There it is again you say.


After the Fact

At the theatre I saw a man pretend 
to float around just by timing his jumps right

between the parts of the strobe light where
the dark gets its chance to flash

for once. He made it all the way across
the stage which stunned me senseless until

I saw him out of breath on the other side. 
Of course the jig was up: if you’re going

to fly you have to act like nothing’s happened
after the fact—this is the first rule.

The second one you find out in the air
is something I’ve been prone to believe.

Around here, the strike of lightning 
hits more like a splash, like a flat hand

slaps the face of the lake palm open,
like give me all the far-off light

you’ve got but bring some red swell 
and sting while you’re at it. Bring no rain. 


image: Aaron Burch