Four Poems from the Series “Thinly Sealed”

Delirium [2]: I shiver until I’m under the sand at the bottom of the ocean. I’m in
the Howness not the Whatness where I taste the tense and wait for you
in your disparity, who cannot be sensed through my gills, cannot be clasped
or jawed. I’ve got eyes that can’t matter. Jelly is not a witness or strictly
a thing. And the territory is not your moony seas, said Elizabeth Bishop to me.

Everybody was wrong [although nobody is wrong], even Dickinson in her room
writing down her wrongnesses, her abdication [of me], her [in] justices, her [self]
punishments then sewing them and hiding them under the bed [so wrong]. Wrongness
has a voice [nobody’s voice] but wrongness has no audience [everybody’s devoted deafness].
I’m speaking for nobody when I say love and language kept her [me] alive and in error.

The children want the eccentric genius [in the book] to be good, not a selfish prick
who happens to be a woman, a narcissistic, watery echo of themselves, real and wishful
in the way the children think of real: seldom, LCD instant jolt of never and dim
yet waiting in a windy uplift for an audience [just one] yet needing no audience.
The children want good or bad, but good [selfishly], no wobbling, no wind over water.

The book of poems by award-winning X or a glazed magazine? I glaze and breeze
through, float in to find cleavage or a length of leg arched by a red bustier or a glossy shame
article, a smut article about money and its trickle down to not me, Señor,
and yet the currents fill that part of me [that part of you] with rage, like a lock
until the water’s even with the other part of me [you] and so the sleek vessel sails on.

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. 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.