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Leaser of the Lesser Light


detail from Pockets, 1973

Leaser of the Lesser Light

He didn’t feel adequate going from
the warmth to cold, or winter to summer,
TV his pathos, apathy, empty V,

nor the way the traffic rules changed at will
red to yellow to green to red as both
exit entrance ramps opened closed willy

nilly, the bridges burnt and unabridged,
no ground zero for calibration or
grid to lock the stock to bond the bound

whose sound surrounds short shift serves to double
tongue of teeth, bright false light with lie applied,
logic lost cost but boost to bottom line

beshat with splat and sad and slow, lower
wind withered without wonder, with no wise
to light lies no longer believed even

by pliers of their corporate cloners
collecting cash from affairs of others,
losing both car and key in lesser light

powered down to shutter by unaligned
trolls droll in rock roll of stolen booty
looting fires for liars’ higher druthers,

no gas oil to roil plot of counting
crow, stop and go in flow ending bounty,
pockets flashing empty, empty, empty.

– Smith, 11.24.2013

Wrote this in Wallace Stevens style after reading 178 pages of his poems from 1915 through 1940 . . . just 220 pages and 15 years of poems to go. I idolized him in my twenties, became bored with him in my forties, and now nearing seventy picked up a used copy of The Palm at the End of the Mind (Vintage Books, 1972, edited by his daughter Holly Stevens) from Guide to Kulchur and find myself once again enthralled.

The man’s extreme marital misery, his vice-presidency of Hartford Insurance Company, his loutish drunken arguments with Robert Frost, his losing fisticuffs with Ernest Hemingway, his Pulitzer Prize for poetry, his love of fine champagne and finer paintings propel his poems profoundly.

Dude also had the best titles in the business.

I understand him more now I’m older, suffered, humbled.


crooked stop – fotosmith

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