Charlie Smith

No Nonsense | The Layout
July 14, 2012 Smith Charlie

No Nonsense


Split off for a sec

I thought I might say something


but couldn’t come up with it

and lingered in the rosy twilight

unpacking an old suitcase

I found under the stairs.

Sometimes I stay as still

as possible, and tell myself

a limitless vista’s

opening up, but it’s not.

The rain pounded madly on the roof.

Afterwards we

sat on the porch shelling

peas and quoting scripture.

The birds in the melaleuca trees

seemed tired.  The sky

reopened like a grocery store

on a desert road.  I came

away from myself, unstuck,

and a sort of translucent


like a small herd of gazelles

entered my mind.



The Layout


The morning, knocked from the blocks, de-amplified

and clamped to daylight, the forests showing off their skinny bones


and the winterized animals brisk and shoveling messy leavings

down their gullets, the brandished bits in your mind like a vacation


in the tropics where at the cathedral the inventor of equipoise

loses his balance and falls flat.  The damage is done.  Carpenters


and light-fingered apprentices on their way to the arena, the careful

planning that’s supposed to make the lamps come on at the sound


of eagles screaming, these placements detailing frostbite

in the mountains might mean we’ll be back in the loggias


and fruit stands of our youth, someday.  The gimmies, the shucked

superlatives like hosed-down relatives, the way she got on with it


after the tragedy, these secernate jump starts–

we get out early most days, wreathed in spumescence,


the basic compilations of a destiny transformed as we speak

into a vagueness of aspect like a murky rinderpest and invitation


to a crab boil on the beach.  We easily escaped

the attitudinal ambiguities and hooted from the porch


at the passing armies.  Bravery is after all a known quantity.

The getalong ways, conversationalists offering their cut rates


and specialized phrasing, the details of the fire traced with a blackened

finger on a placemat.  It gets impractical you might say to go on.

“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.