27

 

 

                                          Selected Poems  

 

 by Frank Thomas Smith

 

 

 

The Actress

 

 

I watched her cross a lighted stage,

Laugh, groan, weep and rage.

I sat in the darkness of the viewer

With a hundred more, maybe fewer.

 

She played an ageing Southern Belle,

A role which, the truth to tell,

Didn't suit her very well.

Though she had an acting knack,

 

The fact is she was...well...black.

 

Despite that flagrant contradiction,

Her cultivated Brooklyn diction

And unrelenting youth - nevertheless,

The actress was a great success.

 

From that night on nothing I spoke,

Ate, wore, did or wrote,

Nothing in fact I even thought

Was unconjoined to what I sought

 

Most in the world - it's easy to guess:

Her heart, her soul, her passionate caress.

 

These came in time, and finally went,

As all things worth the striving do.

Fate is known never to relent

And true hearts are distressingly few.

 

 

                                            Bad Advice

 

 

Times, my friend, are changing,

Rhymes, old boy, are ending,

Clocks all tick your name,

Wines all taste the same.

 

Letter-writer, blot your tears,

No mail's arrived for you in years.

Walk no somber streets unlit,

Wear nothing that doesn't fit.

 

Private property's still secure,

Debts will never make you poor,

Nets will always snare their fish,

Lovers are sure to kiss and kiss.

 

The Mets will rise again,

We only don't know when,

The rains will come again

And so will Brother Ben.

 

Don't speed if you can help it,

Or you're sure to get a ticket

Keep your boots on tight,

Don't make love all night.

 

Deplore the fornicators,

Doomsday indicators

Begetting beggars, they say,

In a most deplorable way.

 

Never vote for change,

Prometheus rechain,

Ignore the mysterious call,

Forget them one and all.

 

Remember, she loves you not,

Remember, you need her not,

Don't think of it a lot,

Shoot before you're shot.

 

"Jesus, forsake me not."                        


 

                                            Crack


The ragged boy,

dark reflection of man,

stands beneath the traffic light,

which changes to amber, then red.

 

The first cars pass,

the smoking buses never stop for red.

We of the second wave brake and halt,

reluctantly,

headlights averted,

eyes straight ahead,

hooded, inverted.

 

The scruffy snotnosed kid

limps from car to closed car,

asking for "something"

with pleading hand and eyes.

 

I look around cautiously

before opening the window a crack,

careful to avoid his grimy hand,

scarred, alive with germs,

and hand him coins.

 

Green:

We gun forward and I lean smirking back,      

The only one to open his window a crack.

 

                         

              Chess and Cheese


To sit outdoors in Crete

with you and coffee, hardtoast,

creamy butter and yoghurt

after a morning swim

in the rosy-fingered dawn...

 

And for lunch at the bubbling port

unidentifiable sea-things,

lukewarm vegetables, cheese,

the deceptive yellow wine

churning my middle-aged blood,

 

In our room on the creaky bed

with the shutters open wide,

a window on the sea,

your hard nipple swelling,

myself ready to rush...

 

One day a thoughtful Arab,

on folding up his tent

under the desert stars,

touched by the God of chess

invented a king’s caress.

 

I ask (silently, my love)

how far we are from that country,

and do we care, now,

as I penetrate your darkness

and mate your castled queen.

    

 

 

Crete

 

 

The wind swept your body as it sweeps the world

My love, and I watched you.

 

The roiling water rushed and brought you back

My love, and I touched you.

 

The contoured cliffs framed your head at sunset

My love, and I kissed you.

 

The warm sand ran through your puzzled fingers

My love, and I loved you.

 

Before my sorrowed eyes the island sank

My love, and I lost you.

 

 

                                                Love’s  Letter

 

                                                          

My sister Faith was the first to go,

Her blood staunched and ceased to flow.

Never was she the worldly type,

And won't return till the time is ripe.

 

My other sister's name is Hope;

Never was she the one to mope,

But her eyes, once fawn's, now droop,

She walks with an ancient's stoop.

 

Hard it'll be to linger on

When happy sister Hope is gone.

I'll retreat then, take cover,

Go to the place of constant lovers.

 

A generation will rise from them,

My sisters will be born again,

They care too much not to persist,

Hope's trembling lips insist.

 

We three will roam the world's wide web

Repeating what the Savior said,

We'll cast away our mourning clothes

And leave them where the wild rose grows:

 

 

                                   The Daughter of the Sun

 

                                       

The Daughter of the Sun

Taught us all we know,

First she forged the licking fire,

The greatest gift of all,

And showed us how to forge it evermore.

The stone axe to chop and cut and kill,

Baskets woven of high dry grass,

Pots scooped from earth and kilned in fire.

The Daughter of the Sun.

 

One day she cooked a soup of river fish.

The flames roared and the pot flowed over,

Soup and fish doused the fire.

The Daughter of the Sun,

Angered by her fate,

Squatted over the embers and pissed a lake.

The fire's dying embers singed her pubic hair,

The burnt vaginal odor engulfed the world,

Kindling desire for woman in us all.

 

Returning to the underworld

She taught us how to die.

Daughter of the Sun,

Mother of the Moon.

 

                                                               

 

                                                    Exile’s End

 

 

My faraway home is a land of lovers.

A greeting there is no touch of the hand,

No nod of the head, no Guten Tag, Herr.

In that distant land my friends all embrace me

And kiss me and tell me: Estás en tu casa.

A cleansing wind blows in from the Pampa,

It swirls even now in the streets of my mind.

 

In exile I am from this place and that,

So let me tell you a thing I have learned:

All men are exiles and heavy of heart,

The price of a ticket to their ancestral home

Requires a lifetime of arduous travel.

I dare to assume, along with the rest,

That exile won't last much longer than death.

 

 

                                                    Ode to All

 

Can Joy be stretched out as an Ode

as Schiller and Beethoven used to do?

Oh the beauty! Oh the hope!

Words and music through & through.

If we could

as good

we would.

 

Moody melancholy slips in,

an uninvited guest, easily

humming tunes ragged and thin,

raw, dumb and outright silly.

We strum

and hum

so dumb.

 

Joy isn’t an Aristotelian category

or a Platonic shadow on the wall;

nor is the rose of melancholy

enough to thwart the cosmic All.

We sigh

and life

goes by.

 

                                                    Tall Tale

 

A tall tale unequaled until now

relates the times and troubles,

the bloody sweaty youthful brow,

the sweet voice that moans then doubles

 

In pain under the heaviest cross

in human history’s many crosses.

To lose such a one’s a terrible loss

it seems, but the gods’ ironic causes

 

are not for them who know not what

they do, for the tale continues, taller still:

The dead man rises, speaks, the lot;

he who died on the skull-named hill.

 

The question unanswered for many of us

is whether the tale is tall or true

and the answer worthy of such a fuss.

Lucifer laughs, which means it must.

       

   

                                                    Parting

 

 

A window flew open clattering wood,

A girl leaned out as far as she could.

 

The gentle breast that filled her dress

Palpitated as from an anguished stress.

 

A moment later on the bottom floor

A man flung open the rotting door.

 

She cried: "¿Cuándo volverás?"

"That", he spat, "I know not".

 

He limped across the puddled street,

Cursing the slowness of his feet.

 

I've often wondered but never learned

If that man ever returned.

 



Home