Charlie Smith

Better Than Heaven
July 9, 2014 Smith Charlie

Better Than Heaven


So many set asides, you say, intemperate

millionaires, those responsible for our welfare,

and individuals without malice

who goofed, the jail cells of our misery

damp with the morning chill, you say, done with, ruined,

the worst has happened, those we trusted, trimmers

at Zabar’s carving the lox, and the wisdom

of children, finished, comparisons invalid,

the stupefied escape artists

and ministerial candidates and the self-satisfied

disposed of,

the rescued returned to the floods

and fruit pickers, those who catch beauty

aflight on the sweet-smelling breeze, authentic characters

messed up, dead on the floor

of western motels, crapped out jinxed, lost

to the boulevards, you say, past saving,

charlatans and poseurs, the wise, minxes in damaged fur coats,

drapers and stevedores

watching cartoons reflected in project windows, even

this compared to that, you say, and metaphorically, antique cars

gathering dust in apartment house garages,

old ladies getting sick from their cats, drunks,

homeless women fat on starch, the confused,

young boys ready to die, those still able to capitalize

and producers of change, you say, erased,

gone over, discontinuous, possibly lost,

ruffians and finicky brutalizers

and brilliant talkers, the fake, well-wishers

and party boat captains, those out on bond, the repairmen

just now popping the lids on their coffees, you say,

sailors unmissed drowned, and wives

up for spousal abuse, unaccounted for

now, exhausted in little byways

out of the light, something, you say, better than heaven,

replacement crews undone, lovers hexed, something about this

tremendously appealing, you say, the quiet

in the abandoned mining camps,

the little trails across the desert that turn into artworks,

leads, possible meaning.

“Trees Pushing on into Late Fall” is from Charlie Smith’s new book Demo, his ninth poetry book. His ninth fiction book, Ginny Gall, a long novel, is just out from Harper.