Michael G. Smith teaches Mathematics at Santa Fe Community College. During the summer he conducts chemistry research at Montana State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry. His poetry has been published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Matter, Nimrod, Sulphur River Literary Review, the Kerf, the Santa Fe Literary Review and other journals. In addition to writing poetry he enjoys backpacking and skiing, and has an active Zen practice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dog, Children, Bike
While walking Darwin
only happy children
hands reaching to stroke
his long golden fur,
to feed his smiling mouth.
Nagged by the fear
that slithered into the world
after the devoured fruit
spread its seeds,
I show them how to scratch
the wide bridge between his eyes,
silently praising the desire
driving the agave's ad hoc
the children's climb
aboard the bike
again and again and again,
how to muzzle the serpent,
that this moment only flickers
Gathering Tongues after Miriam Sagan's
Black Field Sketch
by white moon light
side of an earth
coupled to large
with black moon light
with hatched cirrus
in the new west
Dad calls the strange fruit a Chinese apple,
slices it in exact thirds with a practiced force.
Sticky lips purse, my revelation
his reward for secret upstate years
sheltered from Granddad's bottle
to be revealed when a cousin slips
it at Dad's wake.
I will smell an informed dearth,
a certainty that cancer can be beaten twice,
see jars of straightened nails,
the bank box jammed green.
I ask about his first.
He smiles a rare smile,
says it was on the farm at a brook-side picnic.
He was raised in Brooklyn.
I picture Brooklyn, clear streams,
fields of ripening apple trees
in the folds between rounded hills.
One day I'll learn a Russian doctor
grows a thousand threatened kinds
in the Kopet Dag's primal valleys
believing cures hide within their sapid fruits.
I will return from the store, spear a knife
into chain—spread Wonderful,
spill its crimson kernels on a plate
and recall Persephone yielded
to a trick of seven seeds,
left a wobbly world.
Today will be Dad's birthday. Dead of winter,
the sky, a flat slate promising blue.
for Nancy Savoia
Let us say mine has become a porcelain life,
its sturdy crystalline planes vulnerable
to the principle that tranquil atoms
flinch when kissed by harsh light.
Let us admit remembrance of the lost living
rattles my veiled notions, that I shiver
under the weight of mouths
prying apart the gravity of my stroke.
Let us believe normal learns to walk
on untrodden ground, that I'll faithfully
cross white lines and understand larger
views honed crisp as autumn mountain air.
Let us turn a bowl as deep as celadon eyes
to hold my words sober as lazy snowflakes
whispered as our steps mirrored
winding canyon floors.