3 Poems

Abraham Smith

The Insomniac Sentinel


that’s my buddy brother-in-law eddy
on nights at the paper mill
last night fell he says


asleep standing up je-
sus the machine
could’ve eaten you


nah he says honest worst
would have happened
the paper would have broke


right square where i fell
or it was the facer we
were making


and that’s a pretty
easy mess it’s a leap in
the hay see


whether facer or no
all to a man jump
in and down and


shoulder that
snake of steaming slop shit
back up out over to


another it’s a vat where
it’s time to cut the broke up
and cook back to usable


cook it back to usable
there are guys there guys there
can tell it just looking at it


when it’s ready to be facer again
changed is what any body says
given time and activities


smeddy’s face ilk ug
icked round y
inters f rinks


say we no man left behind ever
and puff a chest and suck a
gut in but of course we do


lose ourselves
and others connections
concessions rusting


carts of sparks
arc to ground


in the popeyed veterans’
bitter flags popping loyal
laurel royal alloy say


to a fault shined knights
in peaty books through the so much
rain blasts their underclothes


to rusts hued for good
call it mettle’s happy heart attack
let by sunset atmosphere


digging at his arm eddy is
where fiberglass little
glass mouth biter cotton


candy flea facer
rashed him up good
into battle now goodly noble


knights came to expect to endure
how a herald’s heft burned the shoulder
blade to flame cranes grey graven there


stands one among many there
she alone the steady eddy one up
on one ‘rina foot while silent round shining


in the other weathervane birdpaw basically
it’s a manna snowcone minimoon held up
crystal ball style and


the legend goes should she drop that
upraised stone of light into her shadow’s shallow into
water’s lax glass lap then sleep felled she so


waked better be by some footstone spats with waters
dimpler cymbaler wrinkler surprise her
flat out needs be brought around


to home fires vigilant ligament villagant stay
tuned to any twig’s neck hex say because not in this
alone because next bird up just won’t do


because spoiled milk twice boiled
slips down the storm gutter pant of the son
of the father hey eddy


hey maybe
that’s a wad of paper
facer i mean


steaming and staring and stirring up
through upraised heraldic crane
say she footballed the broke


balled your face maybe even
so yr lips race your eyes to yr nose so
yr brows like fire starter sticks say


rubbed together patch the parachute say
with little snails of smoke say
little ferns unfolding say


on cicada’s swale-you-whole-womb-tomb say
on cricket’s bandy-knee-shriek say
in every 3rd bird’s skipping 7inch say say


say sleep truth escapes no
one she does drift
does drop you


coinwise falling
then into the slipping
stream glass yr second name releasedinto above’s below


ah tell how time’s a river impulsive to the sea then
or what’s time’s scuttle when yr under with no
real bellow gill to plum yr blossomless bosom straining


say seconds? days say? before grapes
before melons fireseyes bigging
she sudden sight sees you


as maybe no one
ever has quite
see-seed you


bottomed backed trembled you
solo sexing it you
getting born or first trying to


sign your name while the current’s scrawl
does nothing much with you and you’re watching
her peace sign peace sign foot falling for you


pedigree hers drawling in inevitability of a machine
closing and clasping and raising you up out
you gasping you sputtering you coughing drool dew you


bap tisk lee east new you new
saved the day she did and you
you saved yr life’s chandelier bandito sound for


her sing after won’t you it’s yr throat so
memorable to those hundred thousands gathered
as around a brown tomb upset


every eye fish
fat with gold
made to measure you


man that wriggler
can’t span when yr huger
than a shouting gun chorus


when every mouth swells
to glitz yr simple name
precious metal


fork to spade to tnt to plodding
dozer how much then
after under might remain


gonna dig into the sidehill’s
subsidence gonna cove an ear to
badger heart or bear thump thump


not the rain’s choice
no the roof’s arrhythmia after
o doe o doling drops


like god does
god does
teeth to babies


your birth breath caught a little
catches sound’s breast this
rolling out of you in green headwaters


if the river whiskey and i one rat dove
well i’d skitch to the bottom be
that wooden spoon forgotten in


stew stews down darling
the dimple lick tensile
ladle delicacy call it


dearer than marrow in a doll
that’s ether’s zero only
in the well met helmet of the ortolan bunting


that’s the pike the drool town raven is
rowing when above this
river’s varicose roll


that’s the river keeping everything going
that’s the paper the facer rolls deafening on
that’s the equator heat belting off the driers


takes the edges
off the porno
mags up in to a sneary little curl


o worthy o consider your glowing
stone on nights like these at the mill
your weight in gold now what would that be


would it your weight or
you and your children
or you your children and your wife


or you your children your wife
and your truck needs a new alternator
or would it you your children


your wife your truck needs a new bearing
and yr bent cussing the pigweed the johnson
grass wound so tight around the tines


the batters of the rototiller as to be
tumor woodstone workerback
o broken clock of weeds


or do you do you wait weigh
goldwise what the minnows in
the mountain streams weigh


tipped and slipped and
running wounds
dogs of debt dogs


may grow cleaner
the keener the closeness
to the sources


may that’s after
april before june and all
3 render we rectangular


better call ’em what they are
slippy timothy onion lard
union internal flame dirts


bucketed down upon
our negligible heads
time has a way now


of singing
the high end at the end
like a bottle-


rocket aimed more or less away o
lizard in a blue jay tonight
o boom baboomboom tonight


surprise now come to find now
has a price pray eagle river of coffee
keep me in seeing eye stones tonight


in the other shoe dropsy stall
in sandstorms of sound stones tonight
in lichens shot out shotguns


until they get up
run greeny mouths
into the stars’ why white


never once not eggshell
tremble paper-knuckle
into the bonechill blues


into the red
ran vermillion
halfway down


bug on a crown
soresooth flag
who next who now


schoolyard pole
and will you risk it
yr tongue to touch it


awakenin then
sand and facer face
snapped crayon teeth



Double Vision


ah when new baby rises
rises up all black out drunk
from a curbstone seafoamed


in false crests of
newspaper and trashed
xmas wrapping paper


rises up in a coast
or crust of bread
coat trench


something so all leg
so old and new rises
rocks along


this land here
times ago
that ocean


this new thing
proofs it
that muddle throttle


murk at sound
of yr own voice
applaud when


they applaud
to plod upon
applause’s plaudits


for lauded yourself
saliva string
a rope tow between


the moth from the mouth
of the nameless goner
and day’s first rooster


shovin a frozen flame catkin
up under
the saggin tent


of dawn what is it
to throw yr blood
up into the cask air ask rooster


why baby decides
megadeath for the song
plunks the button


with one oafish thumb
or plain random rain down hums along
the bird the windseam


capable culpable or
cups of fate
spluttering are we


when the train
wags east old hitchyard
whited with styrofoam


lends the chainlink some teeth
wide man stooped to squatting there
blows a coffee in near


car wreck tires
talking and writing
shriek and black


from his ass
sailing out now
in vague parade


baby the second towers
nearer second first
needle for a nerve


behind deadline seamstress mowing
stitches like airplane smoke
in something kin to kitsch sackcloth


and with the mercilessness mind
of one acid’s say
baby 2 rainin blowholes


in face scapes of baby 1 til
like an ages old dipper whose
dip spit wears a hole in chin lip


ah habit’s holes
try and muddy over
with egg crates


snake bite hammer time oil well
snake bite hammer time oil well
snake bite hammer time oil well


from dear dear beak
from almost a drink
the spine so liqui-new


babe breath got prized
mincin and particular real anger
chipdust pinched by a fatso leerer


unborn again number 1 is
ancillary rooms darkening
clicked it and the life


cord sags again against
shilled earth
dill plant no match


for the ceo
done with his
cigar sun and


i have heard the mighty
misty professors
to pull at their salt beards


at their usual sugar bangs
crazy bard
hard over


this fam kill astonishment but with
no real reasonable or
okay words to peal


their beards their bangs silent
earth under stacked wood
and i have read plenteous loud


psych books piled unto the kingdom
about how you are
how you are because


the pissed and percussed upon
middle child your
firstborn wavin a flamin


signature’s vowels
bulging distended
corrals the youngers’


kitten blood
in a bedbug


in a cistern
turn the waters
clearer only


child tether fizzing
down the dynamite
tricked up plenty


by the last born
all surveillance gone
i slip to the podium


in this tide tweed shined by
rain and time rot am i not
before yr very first memory


every hill every river
every drumlin every shale
every edge to vanish every stone over


every talus slipper
every plains whose windsong
mitts to copping fire


river run beat teeth deep
acclivity sharp crushed glass
escarpment’s echo descrying


rib rill rises flats fats ridges
there where the sib plot thicked thicker
than mule saliva after a day


stuff was glue you could hand it down to a kid
take the pleasure of a hollow hour filled
chase it out cross the yard


mule drool throw it up uhoh stuck it in a tree
nobody tall enough home
all the ladders down the road


as all were pitching in at painting
the barn so this poem leaves you kid
jump jumping but there is no way


that’s a war between
that’s a battle of
just us kids


of epochs of cities
of natures of nations
for every one there is one


must give shove to
my grace walk
try and heaven my face


heavens my clubfoot
cranesang lordly byron wreaths
of quick and painless spiders


spreading like sex rash
along the toyish
kayaks of his clavicles


our best hair beat
in the dust chaw
our eyeballs jostled


like bedsprings
on the first nights
we must bite if we have to


loose a tooth too
money moon going
ga ga in the ska sky


thumb in the
blood eye


shiner one
dysplasia loaf
worthy grass


pissing contest
course the creek
serious about river


shoulder dislocate about
who the hell
older is this


little hill arisen then
go grow lonely
behind after


lonely and thoughtful
am i to be no father
my solitary shadow


just the penciled in crime
my tomb
upset by lover


or twobit thief
only the half eaten
acorns under the dramatic oaks


cracked little deeper
into smear know
knowledge sole


o love
whisper a fig
finger in


twin kin in thin down
to a line on a ledger
screw yr poor over


screws or nails
the two kinds of people
will you bang be


earth slurped up or
twist in the clay yard
play thing of wind’s


square hands
tantalus stooping
tantalus reaching


am i blasted this black hearth or
the rosy engineblock heartpine
burp burn til queendom


or am come to the king jack
water from shit moat drawn
best bird made i can


my shaking hand
koi carp claim shark
dusk and after


in there not knowin it
or shall i steer
or sleptwalked be


into the cut ground one fine
day my name pulled over
me xray apron heavy


and then
the worked to worth-
less dirt



Brake 4 Cranes


for their size
is ours
or close


anything you love
blow it all
your size or close


i love maudlin turquoise
buttons okay one
your size or close


i love cape cod beech leaves
in early oct toothache bright
okay one your size or close


i love tea on my teeth in the cool pm
and to be near a dim lit bathroom okay
one your size or close


i love wearing a hat in a house
and running hot water over ever redder hands
for winter’s sacre sake okay one your size or close


i love it when i check email
and there are none no not one
okay one your size or close


i love sticking my neck out
for unjust people with green eyes
okay one your size or close


calls theirs cull sack
debt natal stay-cation
culdesacfor a trachea call their


unison dandy leek call their
pond jump when kid jump call their
wastey corn teeth laughed free lichen icon their


unicycle bard call their
union pant sauce call their
fascia skeet trashcan lick call their


acne cream squeegee dream call their
blown knee brace ace rage call their
hand pump the well honk geek call their


dirtin curtain dinosaur call their
heartpine stage planks repurposed as
dolls for wet herdsman call their


only way to get that wet
is don’t wait on the river call
culdesac neck unspill


one good place is
to raise a family my good friend’s kids
bored wd rubwheels to


curbs upon giving skateboard’s
unmistakable trenchant
construction patter the cranes


so lovelylovely in their til death ardor
in the land of tammy
wynette well met why not red hurt yr


hands a little for their ardor arbor
already a stout copse just and standing
thick lush beside the sparer coppice


gaptooth haha eye-crept
thru spindles over air
apple green shoulders


into the pissin internet where
rapt injectable plastics enhance mints
in the fleshy mouths of scorchin deportees


die for you die for you
die for you die for you
die for you die for you


died in willy
times ago


tho these midwestern thespians strut
and rail this rehearsal hall still
sound about if


were a runrail judge’s
florid bile


and pedantics
a kit you try and trace force
with drunk thumbs


after midnight on
what once was
christmas eve sir


about like if an oxfordian’s oar’s
suspended richmond drip got pinched by
some soil cap scholar layin by


erased blunder for eyes
hangover incurable matter
salted or egging


so rubs old ink river
into his gored tomato gums
sees didn’t i tell you heracliteanly


pees pees a fail to
arrive at sea
sit me down this forest dim


as tho low
in hull the water
my mouth tightening


between the pine
and the woodpecker
crosshatched in flight


that i might listen to
heart’s time is its own
horse swallowing


is a man moanin
through the leaves
doubletime and there


s/he is
lean against a tree
the tree too big


for its britches for that’s
a sycamore one of those
what they call born nudists


and the sick leaves
in their taperings
sort of like ready


to fuck you up
but bout the size of
an ancient shame


give him away sheepish
pelt in a creek eyes
take that taint away


sweat to a future smear
child ups to reachable window
passing man with both eyes seen


wretched in lampshades
powered by his dog whose coloring
conjures a country yam calm


where the bombs
sweaters slipped over the shiverers
where the thoughts steady


in heads rung
rung and bestowed
a not uncertain warmth


where the human
humaning again
pliable domino turns


purblind pures
this where patience is
and angry ain’t and


if coins colors
of breath breathed
by cloth buried


no more sweet lingerer
flower freely climbs herself
so there




ABRAHAM SMITH is the author of five poetry collections–most recently, Destruction of Man (Third Man Books, 2018). In 2015, he released Hick Poetics (Lost Roads Press), a co-edited anthology of contemporary rural American poetry and related essays. He lives in Ogden, Utah, where he is Assistant Professor of English at Weber State University.