Don’t Move

You can have a thought or avoid a thought by having a feeling
when it’s dawn [human inhuman light] or a gun is drawn
[here, elsewhere] and you put up your hands and get down
and get small; don’t ever take one in the back. Or there’s music
the birds authored, elegy and ecstasy, although ecstasy could be
a flight. Perhaps it’s about territory protected by noise. I hear
loss and want, seed need and fleeing, the rhyme and meter of fugue.
There must be an elsewhere with night as poetry without para-
military intervention and the thrum of a wing making the small air
part. Here I’m unexpectedly protective of poetry as the prodigal
daughter I’ve cursed before and shunned, but love furiously now,
forgiving her profligate freedoms and forays into human resources.
Dawn is fragile before capital takes over with its back up sounds,
don’t say we didn’t warn you, don’t say poetry didn’t try to say
something in the bird frequencies about pleasure or was it
mergers and acquisitions? Dawn evolves like a thought dissolves
into that concocted thing with bodies and shadows, all the shattered
light [don’t say there wasn’t amethyst and phlox color, Oceanic
masks, don’t say you didn’t put your hands in the air]. The child
has a knowledge between the question and the wish to be beguiled.

Bruce Smith is the author of six collections of poems, most recently, Devotions (University of Chicago, 2011), which was nominated for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. His fourth book, The Other Lover (University of Chicago, 2000) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Best American Poetry Anthology, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The Partisan Review, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Essays and reviews of his have appeared in Harvard Review, Boston Review and Newsday. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship as well as twice receiving grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts. This October, Smith was named a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.