Fall/Winter 2016

Jared Smith


After you've been at it for awhile
your hands stop bleeding, calluses
harden and shoulders become pistons
powering through the pain to become
your image of the iconic steel driver
rolling perpetual motion beneath mountains
rolling in the summer sunset clouds burned
with the soul of Christ's blood and tears,
and what you hear in the bark of words
and the grunts of flesh alongside your own
is your muscle matched against the stones
you break down for houses, metals, jewels
that are sold alongside the Palace of the Governors
after you've been at it for awhile,
after the song is in your blood, your love in your arms,
and your flesh picks up the scent of dreams
stored in the acrid gears of accountability,
and the clean bit air fills your lungs
each morning into infinity after awhile.

Mi casa not much more than a stucco barn
or a packing case for heavy iron machinery,
but calm within itself and me within itself,
turning over peaceful one last time in my bed
and hearing a train whistle set to wake the dead
scattering the coyotes among the sage brush,
echoing the testes of neighborhood roosters
fanning their feathers in arroyo dust, these
were the dreams with hard bright eyes and
long necks hung out for the chopping block,
but oh, that mountain air was so sweet, and
enough to make pinon coffee break the sleep,
and I would pack my lunch pail each day
with all that I could fit into its dark light sides
and step out into a burning sun that blinded me
with the repetition and singing not so bad each
day where the starting whistle echoed the trains
that filled each night, that carried the stone I broke,
with my shoulders the wheels of industry and love
rolling across this endless horizon that connects us all.

A native New Yorker, Jared Smith spends much of his time in a primitive log cabin in Colorado's Roosevelt National Forest. He is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, is on the board of The New York Quarterly, and a contributing editor of Turtle Island Quarterly out of Oregon.



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