Friday, April 10, 2015

Robert Lavett Smith- Three Poems

Poisson d’avril—as they would say in France—
Or “April fish,” whatever that may mean.
(Medieval custom happens to have been
To slip a mackerel down a victim’s pants.)
This year, I bow to fate and circumstance,
The hapless target of a crueler prank,
Though I don’t even have myself to thank,
As Spring outside resumes its pointless dance.
Now is the season when the absent dead
Haunt us most vividly, amidst renewal:
Garlands of greenery adorn the head
Of every penitent, returning ghoul.
Rebirth awaits us in the days ahead?
Whoever said so was indeed a fool.

                ...the very stones would cry out...
                                —Luke 19:40
I spend all day attempting to recharge—
Accomplish nothing—don’t pretend to try—
Drawn blinds repel a vigorous blue sky
That proffers summer, even in late March.
Perhaps tomorrow morning I’ll emerge,
Reluctantly discard this solitude;
It’s nearly Easter, I should feel renewed;
Maybe I’ll even make it back to church.
But Spring’s an empty promise now, a tease,
A dusty, disappointed offering.
Buds burst like tumors on indifferent trees;
On windless days, the streets are barely breathing.
Proclaim your Resurrection, if you please—
No God of mine will rise from anything.

i.m. Victor Buxbaum, 1961-2013
Victor stood tall against the dimming sky,
His long hair streaming, brilliant at sunset;
His green Akubra black in silhouette;
Who would have guessed that moment was goodbye?
There’s no point in our even asking why;
Death came so fast I doubt he even knew,
A drunken driver killed his pit bull too—
Such an especially pointless way to die.
Like snatches of a well-remembered tune,
My memory exhumes them now and then:
Beneficent ghosts taken far too soon.
I won’t enjoy their company again.
So many male friends lost, abruptly gone;
Most of my close companions now are women.
Raised in New Jersey, Robert Lavett Smith has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is  The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014). Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He has recently begun work on an new collection of sonnets—his second foray into the form—which will hopefully be published by Full Court Press at the end of the year. 

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