“I Wanted to Be” by Marc Kelly Smith

Marc Kelly Smith


I wanted to be so many things.
Bigger than I was.
A tall tower of building blocks.
A shoelace tied so fast.
Jelly spread smoothly
to the corners of the bread.

I wanted to be so good.
A smile on everyone’s face.
Folded hands. A clean desk.
All the numbers added up
digit under digit
perfectly clear.

I wanted to stand between the bully
and the frail kid.
Ready to take it. Ready to give it back.
I wanted to do the right things.
Pull the spit back into my mouth.
Scrape the gum-chewed secrets
off the bottoms of the chairs.
Drag the dumb, go-along laughs
out of the air.

I wanted to stand on an asteroid
whirling a mighty chain above my head,
flinging an outer space hook probe
into the heart of the Universe.
And by loving …
Whatever I wanted to love.
When I wanted to love.
How I wanted to love …
I wanted to grapple the Ultimate Connection.

So what happened?
What happened during that great revolution?
After we pinned our daddies to the floor?
After we made our mothers eat shame?
After we rolled all antiquity and tradition
into cigar size joints,
sucking in whole rooms of humanity,
hoping to assimilate all the differences
and heat the world
with our spontaneous combustion?

What happened
when the chain on the asteroid
slipped out of our hands?
When the ones we loved
loved others?
When our laugh became the dumb laugh?
When the spit shot quick and hard
from our teeth?
When we gave the kids the beatings?
What happened to our dreams?
What happened to me?

I wanted to read all the books
of unerring truth.
I wanted to tie my shoelace fast.
Spread jelly smoothly to the corners of the bread.
Build a tower, a tall tower.
Spell everybody’s name
top to bottom,
bottom to top
all four sides,
in and out.
I wanted so bad, so bad
to be so many things,
without the whole thing
falling down.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007
Tribute to Slam Poetry


Marc Kelly Smith: “When people ask me, ‘Well what makes Chicago style different?’ I say, ‘It’s genuine.’ Because, like the show, your bullshit gets you just so far and then somebody’s going to call you on it in Chicago. It’s always been that way.” (web)

Rattle Logo