Modern poetry collection by the contemporary Cleveland poet Steven B. Smith
Reading Room #2 11 poems
December of 68 I was lying on LSD on my bed downtown Baltimore.
Walls, floor, ceiling, doors all painted flat black.
Metallic mobiles and assorted assemblages hung from the ceiling
turning at will in low green and blue light.
My future wife walked in and sat so she could see me in the mirror.
So and so just got married she said.
Watch her reflection watching me.
So and somebody else also married.
Watch her reflection evaluate my reflection's reflection.
Even through the LSD I could see she wasn't talking what she was saying
I just want to know what's going to happen she screams
stalking into the living room.
I lie there amid my hallucinations and resentfully realize
I'm too weak not to marry her.
Another's strong needs always overrode my indifferent apprenticeship.
20 minutes later she skulks back to the bedroom.
OK I snap.
OK what? she snaps back.
We'll get married.
Six months I finalize
feeling sure the artist within will wither once reduced to marriage,
suburban boxes, the upperclass hypocrisy rampant in her family and friends.
We had a rich wedding in a high Episcopal-cum-Catholic cathedral.
Reception held of course at the country club.
None of my freak friends came.
The day of the wedding
I put all the trash left from moving in the middle of the floor
smoked the last of my grass
took off all my clothes
and slowly danced naked about the trash
sprinkling it with my box of monosodium glutamate
and chanting unknown chants of sorrow.
As has been said
The night weighs upon the city
In tired, fat insolence. Rat scurry.
Old papers flap down empty streets.
It is an ugly season. Full.
Day slouches in, in shameless anonymity
Devoid of great chained excuses of being
A voided has been of god, notion and country.
Unfocused without, we hunt worms within
To bait further cold excretion of reason, rationale.
Refuse refusing our naked nothing.
Strip steal by night.
Groping toward the easily vague
By crawling away from the future.
Drifting upon the powdery plague
Infesting this newly won suture.
Beginning in the silver tunnel
While sipping the pain blackened cup.
Ending in the tragic skin funnel
Forever flowing down into up.
Poor naked ape, melancholy Dane
Dying the silent, sinking orange
I offer my praise to mad Ophelia's black mass.
Receiving Laertes' pain poisoned harangue
I'll soon join that fortunate lass
Morpheusly oblivious of pain
(Camus' first question of philosophy re
weaves Thane Hamlet's "or not to be,"
brings Kant's "progressive unification of
sense manifold" to termination: total
psychic expiration. Hence our sole
existential goal becomes fervently wishing
good death's black ghoul to sensually become
as one with our whole)
Where God assumes skull Yorick's reign
Stay yet awhile Horatio, give lie to my name.
Prefering seas to fame or same
In flame of darkness fired
Mired not in mud but flood
Enfused to birthing Nature's tug
Of moon blood duty
Beauty firm in eye,
Could she in time
Or even rolls reversing
Ever mime wisely nursing
Pagan cures of curves and learning
Firm in flesh unswerving
Tall and elegant prime?