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© Tamsin Smith 2016 All Rights Reserved

All Things Considered

by Tamsin Smith

This poem was written to mark the 10th anniversary of the bombing of Baghdad’s famed literary corridor Al Mutanabbi Street on March 5, 2007.

Your voice modulates the radio. And everything near.

Leaning, I imagine you, to keep from falling.

Wherever we are, we are always up against whatever else remains.

As separate lives go, sameness sits in atoms alone. Yet I hold you up and know you better than those passing, careless in their casual comforts.

You are in me like a spine.

They took your father. Your brother, your sons, your home. They took your city and its alleys. Parks. Poems. People. Swept litter.

Sideways in a shed without a roof, You lie blinking at the sky. One need not disbelieve in time or distance to find our eyes meet.

Together we follow as they gather, memories coefficient, fueled as fire drinks air.

It’s only been an instant. Story and history fanning out and up. You were speaking of a bird in a cage. One possession that hadn’t been destroyed. You’d been asked about hope. Do you still have it?

Of course, you said.  Because, the bird.

We think of freedom as escape. But you hold it on your lap. The warmth of your inner world soothing hope through filigree reed as a mother’s ribcage held the first dream of you.

The dogs are loose on the darkling plain.

But you are the wind. You the flame.

You because you. The bird.

Eros Epicentered

By Tamsin Smith

one sits

here on

window watch

where trumpet vines

offer water-witching

to eager wasps

divining then diving

body-rod into flared petal

bell-nectar bobbing

with immodest intention

(Oh) & how lovely to be so

literal speaking of nature

without rouging the mention

with circuitous reserve

and beveled indifference

for one loses

so much behind

the skirts of indefinite pronouns

— each, another, many, same —

pretending pleasure isn’t

an extractive industry

mining

being an acquisitive word

ought also to mean

made mine

by act of drawing

desire ichor-dear

to telluric self-center

bellybutton bubbling

immodest emotion

intentional motion

oracle of the trembling peel

thyself laughter shaking

a known gibberish

(Oh) such classicism from the naked surfer girl

Three Rivers Returning

By Tamsin Smith

.

woman

anything

but seated

plaster only

as the kind

that heals

says write

three lines

on the day

when another

keeper of words

cites an old world tradition

of asking the most helpless thing

for protection from grave menace

so I suggest we enlist

we volunteer army of three

ash-grey spoonbills

ballading ghost-fire

to a cold-eared pond

stirring the reeds

the way a child turns

an empty pocket out

to free any possibility

that we may again

fill our cheeks

with sweetness

enough to attest

Lorca,

We crickets

Are marching

Sleepwalker

By Tamsin Smith

sift in silence

down the milky column of

moth-occulted midnight

the crooked fable will fork

to cobblestone runway

sink to a carpet of poppies

stem-split by a preordained polarity

each side swinging

asynchronous

dutch doors unlatched

an opposition akin to

two hands missing

an intended meeting

loose itinerant icebergs

paroled but purposeless

such requisite debt

is known in the bone

it forms the frame

as only one hand

can another

affix the arris

shape the sharp edge

between surfaces

so from dreams

we may safely pass

Amid a Crowd

By Tamsin Smith

 

Come stranger

We’ve been years 

In the sweet

Stay of slack tide

Unstressed by ebb or flow

Slant-set drift nets

Outside time’s arrow

Buoyant as coins

Tossed with no score to settle

Sheer-float signal souls

Bound by bracketed intimacy

Two figures

Nearing recall

On either side of waterfall

Followed by storm watch

Punctuator of all

Separate returns

Returns and returns

Always and never

Seized from the day

You ceded my bard’s

Glowing bars back

To me murmuring

How you live here now

Here (touches self)

No line bare

Pace : A Bene Placito

By Tamsin Smith

.

if I could palm my way into

the glove of your sleeping self

you might see the literal

heart of me flash

immodest embassy

because this is how i arrive

like an acquacious animal

shedding raiment

like a too-tight shell

like a white flag

wrapped to a mast

like a dove denuded

cooing for peace

with pen

in place of branch

drawing pearls

from cyclone spools

to string a night

paced by frisbee moon

its lunar phases lifting

your waking face

(oh shimmering oasis)

there could be no more

perfect moment

than this

Poseidon’s Lament

By Tamsin Smith

cold obstinate vapor

take off that coat of armistice

you know of no more news

from nowhere 

no one would  kneel 

by such brooding

pools of blank self-countenance

clutching the belly of a ram

to sheer off how many

have been consumed

spelling sins of sentiment in ragged letters

— loyal oyster vesicant elegy —

at such cost

lay out vain embers

to trail fog-spent rescue

down twinned peaks

tracks where there is no third rail

and a hissing speaker indicates

you must collect your baggage

and begin the hard return

through the gloam

to abandoned avenues

where spindrift laughter 

claims an unlabeled valise 

as found

Center Ring : Head v. Heart

By Tamsin Smith

 

How might I

Without whip

Or cane chair high

Coax you to calm?

.

Obstinate beast

I long to reach

Some soft point

Of entry where

We play untrained

Without applause

Brawl or guard

The mind of me

Swallowed

Headless into yours

So we can’t think

to tary 

to taste

the lees      

the legs

the long finish

Marble Warrior

By Tamsin Smith

as in all things

pulling against

.

or leaning to

desire is severed

.

like a limb or a head

the pit of the statue

.

remounted, withdrawn

regardless anew

.

metamorphism being

rock’s birth-born luster

.

interlock of impure

pressure polished to vein

.

and waxy scar

sobs sculpted without face

.

calm-polished neatly lush

compared to us

.

restless with cigarette

packets covered in verse

.

modern tar-coated couplets

crumpled and corked into bottles

.

to cross a white sea

.art glass toys

.

rolling frail ransom

to the breach

 

Quixote

By Tamsin Smith

 

what was the windmill

to make of your jousting

it’s as comic a scene as this

sunset giant

turned towards

your charge

powered by

pierced by

illusory air’s embrace

assailed in the very act 

of revolution

arms reeling

and all

stolen kisses

out-blown like

emptied wishes

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