I. Manhattan

Still pulled between mother back home,
hard men, and a panoramic thirst,
you arrive end-stopped,
all bluster, knack, and thrust, inking
your bald America, the vision
not quite level, not quite...

And so I bridge, out of time, the life,
the same token shots,
                                          and watch
from the deck as you exit
into a shallow window
in the amniotic wall of the sea.
Accounts differ as to whether you swam
for the tossed safety line, or were,
even at the end, just passing through.


Here’s to Pain, Happiness’s hipper cousin,
the devout navigator of Heart’s
meanest landscape, you
we felt with us when the hard slap of light
first marked our eyes.

Sincerest teacher, quick enemy, un-dear friend,
borne witness to all we feel and cannot do,
the cost of all we know.


On the toll road
between Cleveland
and the state line,

west not east,
slowly the miles
fall away.

I see only the
unmanned farms

and more
makeshift wreaths.


_ The poem is an anagram of the body of Hart Crane’s “Chaplinesque.”

Mike Smith | Mudlark No. 30
Contents | Frost