J.D. Smith


Dusk. The plangent geese migrate.
Ragged chevrons that used to bisect a continent
now settle near a golf course and the retaining pond
of an office park, small oxymoron
inside the larger, land development.
The flocks will rest in head-tucked clusters,
low, transient monoliths, like modest gods
left by a miniature people.

Still, the land-crossing cry
persists as if to close
not a day, but a season,
and mark its loss
with a portion of the brokenness
that informs the haikuís heart
and the weightless bone, somewhere in my heart,
that is struck and softened
by the sentimental string arrangement
that bathes the climax
of a made-for-TV film
about the latest disease
or another private distress
raised to a social issue, if not elevated:
all is forgiven, by everyone, at deathís door.
Inevitably as that death,
the notes well up, break forth,
and with them my tears.

Pendejo que soy!
The small tide breaks
against my reason.

°Pendejo que soy!
The small tide breaks
against my reason.
Literally, in Spanish,
what a pubic hair, meaning fool, I am.
Even my confession is reduced.
In Latin Augustine cried Mea saura!
Literally, what a lizard I am,
Meaning the serpentís cousin,
and hardly less intimate
with the foot-hardened ground.
Mea maxima saura!
What a great lizard I am,
shouted across the gulf
between perdition and salvation,
showing the passage that awaits
those who can summon
such heights and depths.

From my depths, Iíve summoned
a spiral thread of hair, less than
what I could have called myself,
without affecting a second language:

Others might.
I should welcome a promotion to simple flesh,
untroubled by distant sounds that weaken
and arrive to no effect, no more than
an earthquake on another continent disturbs
an office parkís builders, or their earnings.
I could look past the short flights
now joined to the landscape
like sparrows, or a soybean field.


What ends with me? A set of genes,
The notion that my slender means
Might turn into a sonís estate,
The hope that, at some distant date,
My grave marks where my line convenes

To recollect my daysí routines,
My counsels, and the vanished scenes

Whose witnesses would recreate

                What ends with me:

The consciousness that struts and preens
In holding that its passing means
An altering of our species' fate,
My thought possessed of untold weight.
Unfit to stand, the question leans--
                 What ends with me?

J.D. Smith
J.D. Smithís books include the forthcoming collection SETTLING FOR BEAUTY (Cherry Grove Collections,, his first collection, THE HYPOTHETICAL LANDSCAPE, and the edited anthology NORTHERN MUSIC: POEMS ABOUT AND INSPIRED BY GLENN GOULD. His work has received three Pushcart nominations, and his prose has appeared in Chelsea, Exquisite Corpse, Grist and Pleiades.



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