Archive for March, 2008


Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on March 24, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Lady of Miracles (a poem by Nina Cassian, translated from the Romanian by Laura Schiff)

Since you walked out on me
I’m getting lovelier by the hour.
I glow like a corpse in the dark.
No one sees how round and sharp
my eyes have grown
how my carcass looks like a glass urn,
how I hold up things in the rags of my hands,
the way I can stand though crippled by lust.
No, there’s just your cruelty circling
my head like a bright rotting halo.



Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on March 23, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

In Your Version of Heaven I Am Younger (an excerpt from the poem by Rachel Zucker)

In your version of heaven I am blond, thinner,
but not so witty. In the movie version of your version
of heaven you fight God to come back to me.
It is a box office hit because you are an unbelievable character.
Nothing is real except the well-timed traffic accident
which costs 226 thousand dollars.

In real life, I am on a small bridge over a small creek.
Then it isn’t a bridge but a stadium. Then a low table.
A sense of knowing the future.
There is no clear location of fear.
I want you to say you will abandon your dissertation.
I want you to ask the man in the green scrubs if I was pregnant.


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , on March 22, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Anxious Pleasures (an excerpt from the novel by Lance Olsen)

I bring him my pair of shiny black high heels and dark dress with the pretty embroidered chrysanthemums on the collar. I slip the dress over his head, squeeze his feet into the shoes. His body is so limp it seems as if a butcher has removed his bones. I apply Chinese-red lipstick to his lips and rouge to his cheeks and tease his hair and step back to admire my work. He asks, looking past me over my shoulder:

–Are we having an imaginary conversation?

–Yes, I say. We are.

–Because when you are dead you have to stay up all night.

Have you perhaps seen what I’ve done with my hands?


Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on March 21, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Whitman: (an excerpt from the poem by Larry Levis)

On Long Island, they moved my clapboard house
Across a turnpike, & then felt so guilty they
Named a shopping center after me!

Now that I’m required reading in your high schools,
Teenagers call me a fool.
Now that I sang stops breathing.

And Charlie Parker’s grave outside Kansas City
Covered with weeds.

Leave me alone.
A father who’s outlived his only child.

To find me now will cost you everything.


Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Letter To A Young Poet (a poem by R. S. Thomas, who has awesome initials!)

For the first twenty years you are still growing
Bodily that is: as a poet, of course,
You are not born yet. It’s the next ten
You cut your teeth on to emerge smirking
For your brash courtship of the muse.
You will take seriously those first affairs
With young poems, but no attachments
Formed then but come to shame you,
When love has changed to a grave service
Of a cold queen.

From forty on
You learn from the sharp cuts and jags
Of poems that have come to pieces
In your crude hands how to assemble
With more skill the arbitrary parts
Of ode or sonnet, while time fosters
A new impulse to conceal your wounds
From her and from a bold public,
Given to pry.

You are old now
As years reckon, but in that slower
World of the poet you are just coming
To sad manhood, knowing the smile
On her proud face is not for you.


Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Ghost (an excerpt from the poem by Norman Dubie)

If a man stands by a pin oak emptying
A thermos onto the ground and it is cold
In the light, and the light itself
Has condensed
Inside his bones, would you walk up to him
And say, “I went to the clay house. It still
Smells of the hickory, even now in November
I want to know what is going
To happen to everyone?”
The sound of churchbells comes out of
The canebrake.
The insides of three birds are smoking
On the ground by his feet.”


Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

1979 (lyrics from the song by The Smashing Pumpkins)

Shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
Junebug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we’d never see an end to it all
And I don’t even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below
Double cross the vacant and the bored
They’re not sure just what we have in store
Morphine city slippin dues down to see
That we don’t even care as restless as we are
We feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement, lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below
Faster than the speed of sound
Faster than we thought we’d go, beneath the sound of hope
Justine never knew the rules,
Hung down with the freaks and the ghouls
No apologies ever need be made, I know you better than you fake it
To see that we don’t even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below
The street heats the urgency of sound
As you can see there’s no one around