by Frank Thomas Smith
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.
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,
Begetting beggars, they say,
In a most deplorable way.
Never vote for change,
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."
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,
eyes straight ahead,
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Moody melancholy slips in,
an uninvited guest, easily
humming tunes ragged and thin,
raw, dumb and outright silly.
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.
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.
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.