31 October, 2011Issue 17.2Creative WritingOriginal Poetry

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Four Poems: Luke Smith

Luke Smith



There’s nothing in the water but a chant
saying ‘there’s nothing in the water,’ clear
and sibilant and crisply insincere.
There’s always something waiting to be learnt.

Something like the yearly bore, at spring,
climbing up against the river’s flood –
a flawless counter-argument of mud
and silt, loquacious, loud, a rolling tongue

telling the story of itself, a shout
that gives the lie to what the water said
and brings you here: a fluid trailhead,
a slim new tributary like a root.



A root forms like a thought, building itself
from itself – an architecture of movement
and response, of recalibrations sent
along the nerve-lines of an autograph

as if a name were being noted down
into the earth, onto the blank bedrock –
an alder blot, a majuscule of dock,
the calligraphic subscript of a lawn.

The plants explore the hidden world feet-first.
They stretch, extend themselves out of the known
as if imagining. They lift the stones
and spread into their purpose: water, thirst.




A Regular

Always there, on the vague margin
of light and shade towards the end
of the bar, laced, lit, half-cut, veined
to a mug of rusty, pump-drawn stout:

dark, muscular, and still somehow
rhythmic – as if it’s not a drop
he holds, but his own foundling heart
beating black-brown inside the cup.

He told me, pointing at my skull,
and tracing, childlike, its outline,
that he flew helicopters once.
His stare was too clear to return

and besides, I didn’t understand
the buckled pairing that he made
of my head and his days in flight,
however it was they were spent,

and I still don’t now – all I know
is such unease could only grow
out from a truth, a point of fact
as honest as a cartoon bomb

that wears its lifespan like a pulse,
in ticks, or in the steady burning
of a long fuse, from tip to hilt.
Either way, time is being marked,

the sterile heft of what comes next
is being broken down and aired
in increments, ready mouthfuls
to sip at, swallow, sip at again.




The Children

In a world such as ours
where stars lie nightly
about the stillness of things,
how calm it all is:

the children learn names,
they visit the zoo with their mothers
and return home by train
setting the facts in order.

we saw the monkeys playing
and we saw the hares jumping
and we saw the lions eating
and we saw the cheetahs running





There is dust on the bookcase. And there was
a time when even that would glimmer, seem
a mirror ground to powder, throw a buzz
and dream like shoaling silver-skinned sardines
into the room. It wasn’t dust but prose
built from some primal alphabet of us,
the smallest parts of us, laid out in rows
and drifts that greyed the edges, and in gusts
that lit the air. So now the dust is dust,
and light is light alone, not mirror-glare,
we can begin to gather up, to brush
away these legacies of skin and hair.
We can repair, begin to fix some things:
the kitchen clock, the door handle and hinge.




Luke Smith graduated in 2010 with an MSt in Creative Writing from Kellogg College, Oxford. He currently lives in Houston, Texas. His recent poetry publications include Magma and Horizon Review.