• Steven Ray Smith

Steven Ray Smith, two poems


Beginnings

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.

Road rage

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.


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