[from Charlie Smith's Word Comix, Norton, 2009]
Flattened, sprawled out, snuffling like a dog,
I sniff the expectorate and the feculent lost phenomena,
the shavings and culls, the drifted apart discards
and answers become complications heaved into the grass.
I slide on my belly over the damp places
where old men lay down to try the earth on for size.
In misused areaways behind buildings, among the grassy footings
and slippery spots where disgusting practices ended up, I find
a kind of happiness. My body's covered with what's down there.
Mottled and stained, I've become one with the particulate, the crumb,
the soiled and ineradicable section, the sulcated and unattended spot.
I follow the hog trail of longing. The lowdown is my fortune.
The fundament, the footing, the radicle, the rhizoid, the parquet.
Mouth stuffed with dirt, I chew the bulletins of governance and desire
and take comfort in the filth, in the place
of failure and exudation. I am at home among fistulas
and burned patches, down there with the stems, the shrieks that
to arouse pity, the exogenous hopes tossed out with the trash.
What I gather about me was there before I came.
It is often slick and pulpy like a mango,
hot like the scrap of cat hide the sun shines on,
and in its capacity to represent the likelihood of a life beyond
integrity and consummation, I am solaced.
I make small flapping motions, I scurry
my feet and spirate, dragging myself forward,
paying a manifest attention to the tiny voices of ant wings and drying
and I repeat what they say. In the faint resettlings
of dust and endlessly reducible fractions
I recognize my own voice. Like them I am not saying anything
Like them -- like the torn-off bee abdomens and locust petals,
the crusts -- I have left behind the designs
and purposes I was built for. I am free to inch along,
without meaning. Among the lost
I'm found. I present to myself the unoccupied remainders and
disarranged failed circumstances, the painted tin receptacles
and scuffed flooring of transcience: among the discarded, discarded:
among the deserted, the marooned, forsook, I am part of things.
Now the casual elimination is acceptable to me,
the object hurled down in fury or bitterly tossed aside,
the letter torn to pieces,
the wedding ring in feckless ceremony placed
between two slightly larger stones and covered with moss,
the torn away excess
and deliveries that failed to reach their destinations --
all are acceptable, as are the messy discharges and the exuviation.
Relinquishments, the scattering of pieces, erasures and jettisons,
the fatally incomplete, are equal in my sight.
I flutter and scramble, I drag myself overhand,
leaving a trail, abreast of the trash,
keeping up with dereliction, equal with the failed repairs,
the designs growing more marginal as we speak.
It is here I find the endings that in their perfections of absolute loss
have become beginnings again, the bitten-off phrases and
inconspicuous wadding of spoiled opportunity about to start over.
I see the lost revamped. The mortified recast.
The crapped out recombined with the useless to make the futile.
All the old possibilities -- corrigendious, bone-headed and radiant -- are here.
Word Comix: Poems