Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Waiting Among the Dead

August 16, 2017

 

Every morning dead crawdads pile up at my door
like nestlings dropped from a tree
I shovel them into bags and carry them out back
For every day a new bag lining my alley
They stink through the fly-covered plastic
My neighbor Allen says eat them fresh

He comes and sits on my steps
We watch lines of ants searching the bleached grass
Allen scratches dying skin from his legs
and ants carry it away

All day the sun on cracked clay and hot steps
A dripping hose has drawn four-inch slugs
They lie around in the morning like dead moths
Allen says they are shell-less snails
Eat them French

The summer sun shines all day and on into the night
I walk the streets and feel the sweat blossom
like mushrooms above the band of my cap
I haven’t shaved or bathed, and my mouth tastes
like instant coffee
When I piss it is dark yellow and kills the leaves
Where I piss daily earth worms gather
pink and fishy white

I wear no sandals and refuse to wash my feet
As I lie in bed I can feel small insects moving
between my toes
Skunks gather at my door to eat the slugs and crawdads
In the morning they are dead
I shovel their corpses into bags for Allen’s alley

Allen dies eating crawdads in his garden
His wife returns my bags of corpses
They are overflowing my alley
All day I watch for rain
My nose cracks and bleeds
and my tongue is cloth

On Sunday I follow a crow to the graveyard
It calls to me from Allen’s stone
The grass around his grave is rich with green
At dusk a crawdad peeks out of his hole
Allen’s eyes shine up at me like rubies

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

An earlier version of this poem was first published in Tellus.

 

Discussion

This is an August poem from the decade I spent living with and without air conditioning in Kansas. It commemorates the dog days of summer and of my life. If you have never felt this way yourself, I salute you.

I think of it as the feeling Jimi Hendrix must have had when he wrote “I Don’t Live Today.” But with way too much sun instead of no sun coming in through the window.

“Oh, no. Oh, there ain’t no life nowhere.”

 

Detail from "Moon Night" - acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Detail from “Moon Night” – acrylic painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

My Endless Summer

August 7, 2017

Does anyone remember the 1966 movie The Endless Summer? Two surfers travel around the world, northern and southern hemispheres to surf the year round. What freedom! What hedonistic pleasure! Ah, the 60s.

Now the other day I was creeping a U-boat from produce to the backroom through tourists who either had no awareness there could be anyone else in the world or who looked at me with that “I’m not moving till I’m ready” glare. And, of course, answering questions: “Where in the hell did you put the bacon!?” “Uh, in the meat department.”

“This summer is endless,” I said to myself. Then it hit me. The Endless Summer. It’s a horror movie!

"Yes?" - photo of mountain goat by Bernie Smetzer

“Yes?” – photo by Bernie Smetzer

Prairie Summer

July 16, 2017

 

Always under the heavy sun there is time.
You look around and nothing has changed.
The hills are more steady than the heart.

Clouds move for days across the sky,
like strangers down the highway
looking for some other place.

 

First published in Little Balkans Review

 

Discussion

I lived for over a decade in Kansas, leaving and coming back twice. It is as much home to me as the Valparaiso Moraine in Indiana, where I grew up. The steadiness and simplicity resonate in me. Human culture and opportunity are weak on the plains, but the land is strong. Old hills make reassuring neighbors. The Rocky Mountains are much more exciting, but they can be entirely too adolescent and rowdy.

 

"Sunset" squared - Acrylic Painting on Wood by Mike Smetzer

“Sunset” – Acrylic Painting on Wood by Mike Smetzer

A Love Poem

July 12, 2017

 

As serious as a colony of bees
to do the Queen’s bidding,
we gather berries wild and fresh.
You won’t let the dog out
of the car for fear she will pee
where we might pick, you want
nothing to spoil your dreams
of dessert tonight.
It is tonight I think of,
under this inhospitable sun
offering myself as a feast
for Maine black flies.
After supper, you’ll add
Alizarin Crimson to your
watercolor painting.
I’ll write a strawberry poem.
We’ll walk the dog and race her
home to the front door.
Later as moonlight shares
our bed, I’ll know you
enjoyed your strawberries,
know this day has made you happy.
I’ll touch you gently as you sleep,
close my eyes and sigh.

 

First published in Echoes Magazine.

Vera Lisa Smetzer on Steps

Vera Lisa Smetzer on Steps