MICHAEL DWAYNE SMITH
Like a warped record
keening in the sour shuttered room,
and I listen to you gasp
because I stayed here at home
for you to punish me
with ornery root in my dirty little cup,
bread stale as your mouth,
hands bitter as your tongue.
But I’ve seen breeze beneath the oaks,
heard guitar and dulcimer
courting songbirds and lovers, so
as you start to lift down-
stream in heaven’s inconstant water,
I’ll chill my feet in that river
because I got away from you.
In the Hills of Santa Rosa
Today raven wings left a feather
fallen center in a semi-circle of rocks.
We’ll build our rituals in architecture.
Left-to-right is freedom, temple body,
then roiling blood and song.
Tonight our house, built with river stones
plucked ripe from muddy banks,
glows in a gray-wash of moon lamp.
Thoughtful needles fallen from drooping branch,
I may soon be asleep on your soft bed.
Michael Dwayne Smith's most recent collection, What the Weather's Like, Only Stranger, arrives spring 2014 from Emerge/ELJ Publications. Post-hippie professor, Editor in Chief at Mojave River Press & Review, he's been awarded both the Hinderaker Prize for poetry and the Polonsky Prize for fiction. His work appears in journals like burntdistrict, Word Riot, Stone Highway Review, decomP, >kill author, and The Cortland Review. He lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his wife and rescued animals.