Last(ing) Lines: A Poem

ART-architectureIf poetry seems easy,

it is because of this:

Even blanks bear meaning—

furrow, prowl, populate

as lodestars unexploded—

signify scars subsumed

threshed out on

(un)willing, willful


freshness skimming epithelial soil

(facades, not deep-down drown).

I would touch where the pain used to be,

but it is everywhere.


Spectral text.

Each letter lets loose

a shriek to

beat back

bleak silence,

say: I island here. I accrete from

now until


Sing a cartography of you-ness

into existence.

Contend with neighbors

to crowd or cram

the yearning

maw of the open



The Old Guitarist, an oil painting by Pablo Picasso currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago (IL, USA).

Dump a heap of

meaning picked clean

accordion of whistle-bone


to reveal

aortal gristle.

Each sound senses

whether you are “I” enough

to bang it bigly into existence.


Suckle the needle-teethed


uncarapace expectations.

Let’s stop shoulding ourselves:

This thing you should not write,

is just what must

be written.


I wish I knew the you

cottoned in the margins,

off the rails of lines

on that grid where mouth

meets a marble of warmth,

turning it over and over,

a coagulation of memories,

rolling ’round

sallow self

in the shallows of human Time.

Put your life’s book upon the shelf, tidal, tidy,

hope it doesn’t capitulate,

capsizing esteem

as words are wont to do.

Uncouple your grief, hitch it to a rag-shop doll,

decapitate the malaise

you only begin to notice

when the salt


sensory beds

and your lips

come away


You’ve plowed over

your own marrow.

Yes, poetry is the cinch

fringing your neck.

As beats go numb,

sclera fixed in scorn,

each phalanx a sentience:

rife ordnance

for conscience’s echo.

It is not exactly

tabula rasa

where we end,

but it must be done.

And perhaps

only then

do we begin

to meet meaning:

in the going out, never


until then

many bruises were the

bouquets—bone-songs of the soul—

we sought but never


through an


of grief.

6 thoughts on “Last(ing) Lines: A Poem

  1. emily dickinson once said, “if i feel physicially as if the top of my head were taken off, i know that is poetry.”

    that’s exactly how i felt when i read this post. leigh w. smith, you’re a born poet.

  2. Your descriptions are so rich. Reading this was a sensory journey! I settled on this phrase for a bit, “many bruises were the bouquets—bone-songs of the soul” – nicely done!

  3. salt strafes sensory beds…yes I agree, you seem to be quite a natural at this, it all rolled along organically with certain phrasing leaping out, nice one 🙂

    • Thank you for commenting, Stephen. I am humbled by your compliments and also hope the layers of irony do surface from time to time; I think your writing shows (to me, anyway) a level of craftmanship that’s fluid and agile, such that one might think it came easily, but I suspect you would say that it developed over time and was chiseled and worked-hard-for rather than emerging fully formed and armored, as Athena.

  4. Yeah, sure I can see there is a lot going on amongst the initial aesthetics of the prose. Great job, I like to be able to interpret things. 🙂 wow, perhaps I should hire you as my PR advisor in the future! 🙂

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