Abraham Smith


here we
are again are
again grandfather

one face over the other
try calling different
the rain in the river

behind you i flew ah on yr maple
tapping missions in slush not
quite sinkin in dogbite cold melt snow

and the ol '26 yearbook
from iron mountain
smells like a weddin of mosses

and i am ya in there i the tap
you the sap i the fire you
the all night vigilance i the syrup

you the basement steps i the creaking rising
with a fresh jar to take home grandma
cryin out why look who is here we running from

the dark brown chevrolet barely off it was not
beige or khaki it was like beige or khaki got to
bleeding to death deep deep dark brown yes

and with the drinking
and with the not quite laughing
and with the laughing like starting

a shit buick in cold
all my life that
question about what the lightning

snake of too
bright light through
your green seedlings did do

knocked you from
yr golf shoes in illinois
where you was teachin code

during the war daughter
betty ann up north of there
getting born

dial forward 30 years and
she changes her name to joy
dial back 30 and you wake up in

the hospital pants
still smoking zipper
walked straight

to cloth locked
no more zig
zag it was a time

it was unheard of
to throw
anything away

keeps for britches patches
and you kepts in mind
forever after you was

part native american
saw that clearly
in a green sweater swarm arm of dream

knocked cold
from the too furious bright
and sometimes i wonder

are we arrow or quiver
grate or drain
difference there negligible severe

one guzzles the other
almost grudgingly
swallowing the falling

the following to be held up
by ankle poke corn stalks
winter days or a day

before snow crane hill musics
the following to be becoming
from the milked july mist

from my first hearings of the cranes
through the milked jug june mist even
with the pickle pickers

up the way
from michoacan
tarascan i remember one

hammered copper man new to a bike
legs mariposaing
shoulders stone laughing

while the bike
seemed to scent the rig rail
of yesterday's besotted moth jig way

and i remember her
in a shade of elm
watching this sip bike try

turning towards me
how empty full i was
how empty how full

quicksilver sliver buried
in the bulging and red
dream of a hand

her arms tight over her waist
as though to press firm there
might make fast

the tatters
of her

but if you have laughter
so they say you
are never less compass

marriage of
radish and raspberry and pine me

so small afraid all
time oh go big they
their cast so flute rope aria

twined with the conjunto
it was raining
so there was a party

every song single
in a camel lintly
conjunto accordion wave

pumps a wash fertilizer
into the dry bean
of the crane word

things jump so
like a drunk
in a drunk gasp dream

sound takes yes
and licks us into a shape
grandpa you cussing out

your hooks and slices
pumping ball after cracked ball
up the hill towards the lath

meant as flag
coffeecan meant for hole
great god big oaks to the right

elms corns pines
accordion cranes mist coiling
calling all that shaped me

wing arcing from it
like a wave like smoke
like a sheet unfurled

wing arm tintype intimate
with not through mist
wing for a wardrobe

the call the folding ruler
with each click the map
of the mind unfolding

for i was safe
in the songs
for i was safe in yr cuss blasts

covered me
in the cast slack ropes
of their uncullings god damn it

all to hell i am under
there still under there
in steer and stow

from wobble card table after a party
the crumbs and the butts
set sail shudder at

anything measured
against their life
in flight

what you knew to be then didn't
of yr right life falling from yr ears
of butts and of crumbs

was like yr failing head
milked yr body
so thin and percocet obsessed

grandma fretting
furrowed so her face
wrinkles i wondered

if stepped over edge
of one how far
that floral fall

turning winter
the cranes lifting
like parachutists falling

didn't make no sense
toward nebraska
and new mexico

or kiting over the ohio
for florida
where joy's yips

with the putter tomorrow promise
yr green rage and the too clean windows of
gordons vodka under kitchen sink at 5 at 3

hard to tell where
cool opacity ends
the burner in gin jumper cable blood

begins she's another shaker
me her you
is it the ash after ya got

struck snowing through
our limbs forever? first snow
and yr gone again

grandma doing the
9 and 1 and 1 one
full wheel spin

and the others two
tiny twists hardly touch
her arms in her gut in her worry

watches one eye squad car
crests the hill their toplights
on show patched cloths thick

mizzle eye she can see
the crumbs of snow revolve
in electric light and in mist and

they dial seem to 999
or some such
universal clarion

strop or strobe
the ropes of their flashlights
highlight and hold

in their pisses the butts
of snow swimming out
their slow shell lives

hands up for a pillow behind yr head
sir what doin sir and
do you know where you are

was just watching gentle i was the stars
and the moon full their generous
pulses their stillnesses

badges glinting
wild cat cold tongues their authority
obnoxious author of stone

up sir and we'll
take you up the house
up to it you know where

you are i was just watching
the stars when the cloud furrow
the moon when the cloud mustard

you made your wife sick
sick with worry you could've froze
i was just watching the moon

give piece by piece
its best west blest water it's capable
i am of holding it if briefly

of eating into it of an actual water eaten
by one moon frack by one
star luffing quenched i see

i spy again my origin
in among an edible light whose
taste no taste or a distancing

whose fighter flight lifer
whose rise parachutists lifting
whose water

gauzy meld light
sandwich life
to the points

of words and their slowback
roundings to a darkling vice
i sing to cast

in bronze and gold
and silver and iron
and pig lead and lion granite

and bash and bash it
and bash and bash it
until the stars islands

under foot and i step
through myself
isthmus litmus

born to be bridging the itchin lonesome
them bastards had heavy guns
and flammable costumes

swished when they walked
as if stethoscope i had and then
miraged it cross strike a match

what's yr hurry ticking
snow sky old snow lagoon sky
through whose bottom

turtles line it button it
dream as seeds dream
first little smoke of green

and turning to rise spire
and rising again
flakes for foeless steppin stones

for golf balls smashed salt small
for i so hit the sweet spot why
i felt nothing at all



Nebraska Water

water everywhere going to the corn
and the corn vacuuming
machine invented for nothin

but corn swallow never can
quite tinker corn suck in right
be like squeezin every cemetery

sea to shinin and boast big
bunched like that gonna inhale
every last little pearly white

offwhite cranes cruise then
from the ever narrowing seam
of platte to the waste

man corn must feel like manna
or edible confetti all
that random punctuation

molar gold freckling
capsized furrows that's
right like going where folks

laughed so long and hard
laughed their teeth out
can't you taste it

spiteless ha logic
for a refuel before
kiting on points beyonds

for millions now
back when time was just seed
just rise just fall

ah pass through they seamed
through decent peace saplings
telescope-limb-burr implorers

from the sky vault cupped down
stilted upon quieter ground
arborists and lumberjacks

same time witch whim
of light and wind
season vacuums they again

peaceways til feathered humans
in sacrosanct parsimony
flute a bone of one and

furniture absence
in strips and streamers o
get on down in the carve

and hole then wagoneers
in winsome glut
from hitched post

to rippin machines in
a fuckin fuck fart
stuffed the fartin steer

bulk quick corn rocket
ribbons the internals
fissures yr flesh in

a quicksand of fat
in the deafen of
in stable the knacker

got a hoof on a
blue glue gun and
shut that rider up

in the quicklime of i am
be like if a piggybank
glued in 89

hundred different ways
skinny white overpour
sallow seams

be like worms up
through a rain
chew and chew

steer you into
steer stare
ah art what ya et

heart hamburger
in hamburger guy in hamburger car
in a brown car duh

light red
in a red rain uh
in a cowtown named

for a saint
shot in the neck
snaking arrows

flower from him
in vermillion

a number
a letter
a musical note

played badly
blurs to the belly button screw
in dead letter email addy

distracted as anyone is
not having a heart attack
passin from switchin glow

to twitchy glow while the water
dwindles and the platte narrownecks
and the funeral cars gather

in the church lot
for gerald ox my ass
pure gazelle bred to work horse

in his drag rig
at the airport
got that thing up

near 200 mph long
landin strip in 19 and 53
see things built up quick

whole country
had that corn logic
concerning world war 2 and after

them fellas come back
and prat around peaceful
for a 9 year say layby or so

but if you know a veteran
you know a volcano
in a teapot

refreshments plenty of
free parking
local boys

makin good get them race cars
off the streets go on and hero yr
hero hoodlums likes to say

come for the family entertainment
an obscenity of straightness
and it's just how much

fuel you can push through
and burn up quick relates to
wheel blear and burn kids

instinctive hands to ears
it's a war jet cousin kiss
in good fun

winner went straight fastest
and the folks all went home
little ringin in their ear

cursive unknotting down
along that intern tambourine
but they shut down the airfields

and i don't know seems like
folks get busy doing something else
you mean out by the old sandplant

no i am talkin about the gravel pit
employs 9 guys go like bats out
of the good book i know cuz my cousin

rents out that way and she says
you can't hear yourself blink
for all that gust bust mack truckin

and she says at the morning
coffee or dishes it don't matter
the time of day you can watch

those trucks bomb down
the road or the roadcrews
puttyin the road holes opened

by the weight and bustle
of it all she says be it
the potholes drooled shut

or just them guys bustin
down the road and bustin
the road and she knows

one of 'em pretty good
she dated him a year
junior year can still

taste going down on him
after homecoming when
she was just stars and

honeyboats about the guy
and she still she still
guesses which ones him

can see his light his light turn
green on facebook around
when his truck veers

and bitches at the gravel borders
along the edge and takes
out commando style

little pooch of pigweed
or three and she told off her kids
it's evil to drink tapwater

out of a squirtgun hates
that that homecoming
memory flashes both

thoughts one time taste
was hay needs digging out
the animals stand on too long

like if piss kissed
boredom into a heaven
of my yes luau fatigue

shirt patched
glove tape mapped
teeth excelsior every

third word you dirty
thrush roping through fallen
sweetgum leaves

like worried pennies
worried so hard
shaved that lincoln did i

shoehorn farmer hand leaves
tented in on a cane
if a little jumpy

the deceit of the conceit of time
it don't pass and pass it
easies then leaps like a sex maniac

too long you stand
can forget anything
temporary by look in

the frigerator he went on
to two kids never hitched
wears his corn advert hat

just the same those eyes tho
bulge more lord that ass fat
had to have somewhere to go

like he's pregnant way
he sort of negotiates
his guts around the subway eatin lite

in new year be it steam hole after
the road crew gets gone
or these swirls of dust

comin up off the gravel
trucks beds she can't resist
that yellow line

runnin up her spine
narcissist dog us all runnin and
pissin at the same time

crane o ghost i post of you
a whiff puff up and tall
and angled forward and streaming

post it up in and out
of angel season seems like i
see cranes in everything

lonely as it gets out here push send
where there's no blockage
to where i might eye pop

wouldn't be surprised
maybe depending
i could see 'em one of my people

back in the day married into astronaut
i am not tellin you anythin new
spit in a vial and they send it

back 77 percent bohunk 9
percent german english and
the rest a song so unmannered

for a bird to lung expose
see every let loose
builds a mildew room and a back

alley down which larches
man slow put pout on whiskey
was it 71? came a knock at

the door last day of february
the soft valentine candy
bust a tooth by then

and i open the door and
i shit you not
redheaded stranger

bird was like what is up
we just stood there
glued up in the gogo eyes one

and one until i think i freaked
and she jumped faulty back
like a shit metal walmart

bookshelf we put together
drunk forgot
the crucial screw

darlin this great wide
world can't you see us now
losin the crucial screw

or stoopin for the fallen ones
once yr pockets fill
the mouth'll have to do

say a sturdy turning thing hum it
say a bulwarked mountain west
of here say a methless nebrasky

say a tweakless omaha
say a bright eye black
say johnny rash eyes smokin one

on a softboard porch
retired his goof dust samurai
whisper it no nuke no nuke

no corny name to boot
no pretty vintage dangerous
cursive lifeless inside

no she turns
turns to shut the door
against red light green

and there there again
in private rib little float
to it of well what else

offwhite wing
elbowin in
crestin in

while all up and down
her throat
green peas

peas and pearls
precious squishes
loggerheads doggerel

by curds of light taken in
by move just it's all
a circuit throw

that switch there
that crane for walkin cane
step and she steps

call and she calls
stoop and she stoops
there's a hole

mind the skunk skull
there's a knob nee
mind the cram ram proud obstinate

there's moving sky pleases
and the echoing twin
arrows through it

cuts and it sutures by sound
from scar back to wound
from wound back to baby

from first scream to
a dark silent noise
little drunk sway

that homecomin gator gait
so hand reach
for pup pulp pulse hand

now did we free roam
or were we even aware
of our body's distances

back then first dark
softer and smaller
wet oblong spark

in seasons before
internet insulin
palm pilot porn

dirty hard dud
is was once was
lol fml lol fml



Abraham Smith is the author of five poetry collections, Destruction of Man (Third Man Books, 2018); Ashagalomancy (Action Books, 2015); Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014); Hank (Action Books, 2010); and Whim Man Mammon (Action Books, 2007) and one coauthored fiction collection, Tuskaloosa Kills (Spork Press, 2018). In 2015, he released Hick Poetics (Lost Roads Press), a co-edited anthology of contemporary rural American poetry and related essays. His creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He lives in Ogden, Utah, where he is Assistant Professor of English at Weber State University.