August 31, 2010

Charlie Smith

THE CASING

For years I sat in bars lying about everything,
concealing my limp, offering vinyl
suitcases for sale and proposing to women
who’d overlooked themselves. I gave away

folding tables and threatened
species like lopsided turtles and misused
harness bulls. I wasn’t as speedy as I claimed to be
or as galled by those without

a purpose in life. I sold three-day
vacations to resorts that existed
only in your mind. I liked to watch the breeze
take leafy boughs in hand.

The limits to man’s ability
to reach the stars were no problem for me.
I sank my nose in foreign papers
looking for tiny lots I might build

my dream house on. I said I owned
hotels and racks for smoking arctic char.
I claimed to notice something burning
in the kitchen. A leaf seemed at times to urge

a change in plans. Probably the winds
were coming from the east. I gave away
my watch and told the time by the degradation
of building materials. I spelled the stuporized.

The sun, an old friend, eased
onto the brickyard wall. I sensed an era
drawing to a close. Something told me,
so I said, to gather up my things. Smoothed-

over ideas, frets, a capacity for change
unremarked on by others, a boarding house
menu I used for a text, my bindle, palpebral musings,
a burial suit of lights

and a jar of brandied apricots—all these
I said I’d send a van back for and never did.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009