Bruce Smith

Thinly Veiled
September 16, 2011 Smith Bruce

Thinly Sealed


In Alabama I learnt the difference between the state flag and the battle flag
of the Confederacy.  The difference between aspersion, affusion, immersion,
and submersion.  Everyone was redneck or ex-slave genius, except the stupid
people.  I learnt baked, fried, burnt.  Sun an abbreviation for Sunday, sunder.
The frieght train’s cargo of fundament.  The black noise our kingdom come.


Krishna being scolded by his mother for eating mud: colors on paper, themselves mud,
saffron and sun, puddles, mud borders, Mother, mud sky – cloud snake mud
scribble of first things, Mother, it’s delicious, it makes me hover in the flower,
makes me blue, alluring, trees extend their leaves and many arms to me, Mother,
through my lips mountains, oceans, mud suns, monkeys and a white man writing.


The drug for feeling better than feeling, feeling what feeling, elsewhere
3 worlds [dead, born, un], third rail which kills, slow kills, and what was
the memory of pain or oh, degrees of dawn, and what was pain?  Partial
doses of the schooling [slap] of the impossible replicas, feral riffs,
and fractions of that, the theater that got shut down, who’s feeling now?


The moan, almost everyone knows, is the answer of water rising and dark,
and ringshout, the answer of unknown and disowned before the answer
of trombones, a clap and quiver, glad we are, loud we are a we, after some
tribulation, our shortcomings bemoaned and our little flamboyant rolling
first noise made of incorporated pleasure of the first style of our wayfaring.


The time, the money, the complaint, the song, the hook, the schtick:
when you turn to song you’ve encouraged the sirens, not real politik,
the brisket, the boil, the battle, the corner man, corner man, cut me,
said the story, when you turn to time you’ve encouraged fury, not a Plato
in your head, nor Ali, the corner man can see you bleed but can’t stop it.


They used to belly up to the bar and disabuse themselves of beliefs
and secrets and pithy accusations or confused loves of the abusive bosses,
sweethearts, bruised recipients, north stars, tar babies, arrows of race/
class desires that spoke to me at 20.  But the fusion, fission failed
and it wasn’t a soul but a free neutron with a 15 minute duration.

Bruce Smith was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the author of six books of poems: The Common Wages; Silver and Information (National Poetry Series, selected by Hayden Carruth); Mercy Seat; The Other Lover (University of Chicago), which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; Songs for Two Voices (Chicago, 2005); and most recently, Devotions, a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize. He teaches at Syracuse University.