Why Harp On It

Charlie Smith

In the stillness of dawn when the air hangs back and you plunge your hand
into the bottomless dark of a jasmine
bush when roosters crack the day open under a slurry sky and you’ve
forgotten why you’re awake
and don’t know why you’re thinking of the time you gave the go-ahead
for your mother’s shock treatments and she came out
blank and ironical unable to squeeze orange juice and you poured her a drink
and she said Thank you I am very tired
and you were moving to Sioux City and didn’t have time to say good-bye
and for a couple of years lives in a motel
and ate Chinese-Mex and screwed a young carhop who neede
the money for her rattled
child and you’d wake at dawn with your deepest bones
aching like you’d gotten old before your time and there was no way
to be sure of anything and wood rats
pocket gophers golden bears heath hens blue walleyes thicktail chubs
beach mice dire wolves catahoula
salamanders and Xerces Blue butterflies were already gone from the earth.


Charlie Smith‘s most recent books are Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems and Ginny Gall. He lives in NYC and Key West.