An old sneaker splits a vent and suddenly
it’s shoe shopping day again;
or maybe it’s not new shoes but the start
of the old foot finally going commando,
getting tough, calloused, human leather,
un-supple as a goat’s horn.
Proper grammar and math parameters
say the finish comes after the start.
Songs and every-day witness tell the opposite.
The sun returns after a dark night,
the glory-fisted medalist is again democratically crouched
in his blocks,
the pisces we ate begets our energy to swim.
And this hopeful reversal:
one lived after dying, ended before beginning.
If it happened once, it can happen again.
We have sung and sung the hymn.
All we know or have ever known
is beginnings following endings.
See-through body, oxidized primer,
idiotically slow in the wrong lane then cutting in
without asking permission with a blinker — worse,
using the left blinker to merge right.
Underinflated tires, slumped posterior,
headlights caked-over with dead flies and dim —
dimwit driver as well, no doubt.
Entitled, clueless, wan, slow, and in the way.
It deserves every bit of the horn
and the second blast to boot.
Honk! Damn it!
Then unexpectedly it pulls into my block.
A single baggie of dry beans
pulls down the shoulders of a lady
as she emerges. But she cannot find
the front door key.
She doesn’t think to knock, just stands
there rummaging through her purse.
It’s Mrs. Hoxha.
Knock! Damn it!
my defeated aggression wants to yell out, but
I cannot and she cannot.
There is no one on the other side of the door.
How can a bimmer apologize?
How does the wrong me repent
to the wrong her?
Steven Ray Smith's poetry has appeared in Slice, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, The Kenyon Review, Pembroke Magazine, Grain, Puerto del Sol and others. New work is forthcoming in New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, THINK, and Clarion. A complete list of publications is at www.StevenRaySmith.org. He lives in Austin.