The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

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APRIL 2020 Issue
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from Another Sky

Red sumac divided by mother.
Wild tides. Lake wind shatters signage.
In subterranean history, the world
has known its leveling. Forays toward
simple human exposure. To thwart a single
deliverance through imagination.
Pour wet libations, absorb inner earth.
Compose oneself to a muddy depth
sirens of currency and hard wind.
A mile into sleep I am waking to speak
from moving bodies surrounded
by enemies. I send my signals darkly.
Dream weaver, we can reach morning light.
Dense oak and solid hearth. Receiver tuned.

Sparrows flit in late shadows. Appetite
so tiny sending moods of mechanical
advancement. Calendar matches, person-
ality dispatches. I drink herbal tea
and do my Pilates stretches at home.
Snowflake rain softly down now darkens.
My symptoms are overrated thanks
to mashed potatoes Dad made me eat.
Holiday commute: wind, baby Jesus
elves and dried leaves scraping dry cold streets.
And yes, I note a global wreath of stitched
urgency where ghostliness and loss co-
exist in eras of dreamy compliance.
Ancestors roll over earth to see the sky.

I look for a place in temporal things.
I play dumb in some instances. Listen
to how far I ran from playtime center.
Endure in time’s relevance with eyes
seeing street lights flash on suddenly.
I send material spirit ghosts across
American distances, standing
forlornly in blank (or blunt?) manliness.
A river unwinds in her mouth where voices
belong to no one, not even a child.
Dead leaves rot in muck under husky laughter.
I turn a phrase or saying that won’t give
stepping onto a path of pink sand.
Spiritual bone-thrust in mineral orbit.

Self-surveillance delivers the new “me”
in corporeal entrapment. I present
myself to the sky. What I had wanted
was not to forget, like when I was a child
and desired to remember what or where
I had been before I was born. Or
tried to recall all that comes after me
in a future I cannot witness, flooded
footprints reduced to mud. Not me but what
“me” contains, transmits, sentences to
particular instances of movement.
Windows open patio by evening
traffic’s flatness. Spilled purchases, gas grill.
There is a wound the size of paradise.

Teacakes and little sandwiches with sharp
English cheddar. Woods are empty, bone spirits
crave my acknowledgment. Everything
slips away. Even the nighttime is hushed
commodities awaiting new uses.
I’m such a heel for making you feel
so bad. Strangling dog vine. Month span and moon
crammed in the sky hole. Solar father
I sound the downhome fiddle you played.
Your big stick. The subways are empty.
I see a sudden flurry of falling leaves
arriving with wine and a tartan scarf.
My heart hurts with damp earth. Like a cine-
matic dance escaping reality.

Compose oneself to a muddy depth
like I was somebody out there
looking for the aurora borealis.
Secular spirits crack the sky open.
From any beginning moving onward
an open field. I marvel at the edge
knowing and forgetting I am mostly
archaic and three percent Neanderthal.
I aspire to crow-views, plural
like leaves in gutter trash or plastic straws.
Tear skin, white father. Open voices
my Blackfoot daisy. I met a man in
Memphis dancing in wilderness traffic.
Con-men waved from the deck of a steamboat.

Holy objects multiply. A child’s tooth
amethyst. Ancient sources to peer through—
a watch, blue sage, faded polaroid.
I sweat a lot when I look for words
violent and tangible, what we call real.
Looking at what can be seen to absorb what can’t.
My nerves are frayed obligations. My hand
grips membrane wilderness. Like a flag
on a beachhead in winter. Like frozen
edges of river slicing muddy banks.
I’ve had enough of easy celebration.
Sky like a giant’s belly. Cruel tension
shoulders uneven and in muscular knots.
My memories are tangled up in things.

I think of E. D.’s seclusion or the big
embracing clown-show cobbling the real.
I can tell what’s not here in me—I want
to say how to center semblance’s answer.
Step lightly, hold dear parchment figments
depending on wilder worries. The new
crashes green glory fields, from first sail
to last nail, the dead burdened by broken claims.
Failure’s duration. Green sky pinion motion.
Begin with immediacy, a field
of objects and colors, inherited
streams of ordered stand-offs. Wall of aqua paint
like leviathan skin spread on shop fronts.
Describe Lascaux’s last human vibration.


Dale Martin Smith

Dale Martin Smith is a poet and literary scholar in Toronto, ON, and is the author most recently of Flying Red Horse (Talonbooks). He teaches at Toronto Metropolitan University.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

All Issues