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Two poems by Obediah Michael Smith

Our Own Town

I was remembering us

the smooth and the rough

the times we have had

the love we have made

in between the sonnets and haikus,

we have coupled, we have copulated

cows mooing just outside,

occurred in another relationship

that was in Kenya

out for a walk

along the main street of the town

where you and I met

where you and I would meet

I saw a brute beast of a young man

with a big stick, with a piece of wood

brutalizing the longhorn cows

to get them into a pen where

they spent their evenings, their nights

how I miss that town of ours

and what we shared there

and all we shared there

breathtaking to recall

how close we got,

how close we were

the one entity

that we’d become,

that we became

bare in our rooms

bare in our beds

What Is It That Birds Find to Peck Up

like small birds,

collecting the tiniest tidbits

swiftly pecking and pecking

where we are able to observe

the presence of nothing nutritious

accumulating inside tiny tummies,

the fullest meal

I stoop again and again,

collecting pennies, one cent pieces,

as I walk along sidewalks,

as I journey along the side of the road

anyone watching might wonder

what I might be after

what could I be finding

to pick up, to collect

where they see nothing at all of value

oh, but these pennies, similarly,

are tiny tidbits, crumbs, dropped,

thrown upon the ground

by who considers them worthless

or worth little

these I peck up, pick up

one cent richer every time

I find another and drop it

into my pocket, adding to

my accumulation of pennies

each penny,

moving me, step by step,

further and further away

from poverty, from penury

oh, to have in excess

of a billion dollars,

like Michael Jordan

who made nearly

every free shot count

these pennies are my free shots

I do not fail to pick up

whenever/wherever I see one


Obediah Michael Smith was born on New Providence, in the Bahamas, in 1954. He has published 21 books of poetry and a book of Six-word stories. At University of Miami and University of the West Indies, Cavehill, Barbados, he participated in writers workshops facilitated by Lorna Goodison, Earl Lovelace, Grace Nichols, Merle Collins, and Mervyn Morris. He attended Memphis State University, 1973 to 1976 and majored in Speech & Drama and Biology. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dramatics and Speech, from Fisk University. He has lived and has studied French, in Paris, France. At Universidad de Costa Rica, in 2011, he studied Spanish. Obediah was the Poetry Workshop facilitator for the Bahamas Writers Summers Institute, in 2009 and again in 2011, at the College of The Bahamas. His poems in English are included in literary journals and anthologies throughout the Caribbean, in the USA, in England and in Kenya, and his poems, translated into Spanish, are included in anthologies in Colombia, in Mexico, in Peru, in Venezuela and in Spain. In 2011 and 2012, for five months, he lived in Mexico City. He attended Kistrech Poetry Festival in Kisii, Kenya, in 2014 and in 2015. He spent from 2014 to 2018 in 11 countries in Africa. In 2018, he attended Romanian international poetry festival, “Curtea de Argeş Poetry Nights”. His poems are now included in that festival’s anthology, translated into Romanian.

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