by Pat Smith
Patrick Smith’s poems operate at the intersection of narrative and dream. They barrel toward you like an action sequence that picks you up and takes you with it, pulling you through landscapes familiar and strange, until you arrive in the middle of things once again: “As it unfolded I got up to get off/ the boat but we had already left the pier.”
Your Faithful Observer
Was it my fate to stay on the edge
of the action? A little bit unrealized?
Not for lack of trying. I always dive in.
That’s my Achilles heel or my lunch
break talking. I settled my accounts
at the cigar store and bought a last
raggedy little stogie that fell apart
in my mouth. Isn’t it time we took
off our glasses and slathered on
the slippery stuff? Before that guy
gets us all killed? Yes? No? As
you will, here at the Cocoa Bar,
I thought you were dead, baby,
half buried in the basement. You
always said it was your favorite room.
I watched and when you moved I called
out to the dance class, She’s alive!
Not a glance in my direction.
We’re all of us traumatized, Uncle.
Why don’t you wash your hair?
He jumps in the lagoon with all that
busted lumber and poisonous muck
and we have to go after him.
Note to self: derm bundles
with a focus on antifungals.
Get in front of that snowball.
As it unfolded I got up to get off
the boat but we had already left the pier
Whistle While I
Everything is working per intent
is where I’m coming from
Summer of green dancing
trees, cool ocean caresses
familiar despair of ever
getting something done
what would something be
one wonders finally
Our boat is towing a mattress
Our boat is a multicolor form to fill out
For you: tiny yellow petals
of linden blossoms fill
the mortared seams
like gold inlay
Walking through a shaggy garden
Chewing on an argument about reincarnation
I came across a little old man on a tiny bicycle
wearing a harness with reindeer horns on his head
at least I thought they were reindeer horns
he looked sick and abandoned
by a circus troupe or freak show
I pulled the horns from his brow
He looked at me with dead eyes
and bared his teeth to bite
Meat! he growled, Meat!
Eat plants, I said, and pushed him off
He trundled his little bike down the path
I wasn’t always pursued by wolves
And the admonition to relax about it
I would find shiny whistles at whim
Listen to the whispering breeze
In the new oak leaves
Best in the western hemisphere, ok?
New part, new play
I am an Uncle who
Somehow saves the day
Former Navy captain, gay
I taste some sorbet, cross
To the couch, the assistant
Young, smart, blonde, she
Says, you can do this
Oh yeah, I say
Guideline buckets, orphan drugs
Positively impactful, but
The numbers don’t roll, Skipper
A last-minute change of venue
Made my mom miss the show
To freely wander within the city walls of life
Without getting worried about work
To let go of the men’s belt
That narrow strip of boring brown
Dumb and unnecessary
Fetish of antique uniforms
The wolves are always wearing
Oh, for omens of cosmic disorder
Speckled trout from the sky
I lie down in the road
To piss off the world
From the pyramid’s apex
I watch for my enemies
One true thing
One neat trick
One time only
One last chance
Pat Smith was incarnated from joy and confusion in France and raised beneath smokestacks in Ohio. His MFA is from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and his play Driving Around the House, produced around the U.S., is published by New Rivers Press. His poems have appeared in little journals you never heard of. Smith has always had very vivid dreams and believes it means something even though it doesn’t pay very much. He works as an employee benefits advisor and is lucky enough to live with his wife, Susan, in Brooklyn, New York.