Friday, February 1, 2008

Five themed poems by Milan Smith

Five poems
by Milan Smith
Theme: Nature

Embracing the Developers

Our city had a soul once,
unseen but felt, a ticklish breeze, and
it crept among the
oak trees and century-old homes, and
hopped madly, gaily
through overgrown cemeteries
behind the tombstones and between the vines.
The soul was place,
an extension of the people, and
it splashed through ponds and streams, and
scampered down dirt paths and sleepy roads.
Our soul huddled in the Gothic buildings that
crowd our downtown, and embraced
even the squirrels and birds and fish.
Our soul bound up nature, history, esthetics, and us.

Yes, our city had a soul once.
Then we paved it over.


Fish Kill

I saw mortality
On the beach,
All the stages of death
Scattered in either direction
On the shore,
Vomited onto the sand
By the sea.
One fresh
Lay gray and glistening
With only blank staring eyes
To whisper its death.
Sea grass wrapped another,
While a third lay
Bare, a scrap
Of sun-bleached skin
Left clinging to bones.
I'll lie with them tomorrow,
And my flesh
Will bloat and stink with rot
While my sightless eyes
Meet their gaze,
Asking why
The seas of time
Tossed me so callously
On the beach,
Where the living
So mindlessly,
Stare with wonder.


Reverence For An Old Dock

No graffiti.
Wooden boards burned gray
by sun and rubbed smooth
by rain, stand still
in the summer heat on a muddy bayou,
carrying the weight of men
and tackle and gear. And yet,
through the decades of
come and go, stamp and drag
of boots, sucking up saltwater
and fish blood, there's no graffiti
anywhere to stain
this corner of the world.


Fishing Spot

I found my favorite fishing spot,
a piece of dry land on the bayou
where a tree stretched overhead and
shaded me as the crickets chirped in the
background and the sun warmed my arms.
I'd throw out a line here all day and
not care if I caught a thing.

Many others shared the shoreline with me.
Fiddler crabs scrambled over the mud,
black grasshoppers covered the rocks, and
for today, on the branch of a bush, was a snake.

He wasn't a large snake,
perhaps two fingers thick,
and he never moved as the branch
swayed in the summer breeze.

Neither of us did much,
for the wet heat made him as lazy as me.
He was six feet away, and probably not fatal, so
I tried to ignore him. But I couldn't.
I kept looking back, and he watched me as well.

So I cast out my line and considered
what to do as my hook dropped in the water.
I could throw something at him, or
push him into the water with my rod. But
that seemed unfair, for I
had no particular right to this spot.
In fact, he had the better claim since he
lived here, and I simply visited as
an unwanted tourist.

So what to do?
I cast my line several times,
trying not to look at him, and failing, and
after much thought, I decided to stay.

And so we stood side-by-side,
he watched me close,
patient enough to leave me undisturbed, but
I never felt more than tolerated, and
though I wouldn't give ground to him,
I was relieved when the rains came and
drove me home.



I walked the wood line
one early night, while the moon
shone gold upon me. Spring winds
rustled through the treetops and
chilled me deep. I shivered
to an icy blast, under-clothed.
An oak nearby spread its branches
in offering, and I approached. As I
hugged the trunk, the oak
embraced me tenderly, as would
a mother, but I shivered still.

An odd event next, I felt light-headed,
as my bones softened and jellied
and flowed through my veins.
My blood poured free
from the bag of skin that held it
and seeped into the bark and mingled
with the sap within.
My past life faded as I grew
and filled the oak.

I slid through the branches
to the leaves and breathed through
the pores and felt the wind tickle me. I felt,
but did not see, the world without. I felt
the air ruffle past and the moon above. I felt
the stars shine and the trees whisper. I felt,
above all, that I was not alone.

Down I slipped through the trunk and to
the roots and came to the rootlets, tender
and soft. Dirt rubbed my delicate skin
as I sucked water, and I felt
the water rush through
my new veins, bringing life to the rest of me.

I rushed upward where I felt the stirring of a
squirrel nestled within my arms,
asleep, and his heartbeat
thrummed inside me.
All over I felt the ticklish dance
of roaches in the folds of my skin as
they rushed about their business.
And high above, where I brushed the sky,
a bird slept within my fingers,
her breath upon my skin.
All of us were bound
together, inseparable, yet distinct.

I spent many hours this way,
until the wind slowed then died away
and left the air warm. The world
invited my return, and so I did.
I shrank as I lost the knowing
of heartbeats, stars, and water.
My blood drained from the roots and branches
as I became again what I was before.
My bones grew again and hardened,
while blood gorged my heart and
filled my veins. Soon
I heard the crickets chirp and I smelled
the damp earth below me.
My eyes opened to see
the gloom in the air
and the moonlight at my feet.
Something tore
as I pulled free from the oak, and
the branches opened wide to release me.
I stepped away, uncertain and embarrassed, and
stood naked to the world.

Author bio:

This is Milan Smith's first published poem. He has published 20 stories previously, however, in magazines such as Lines In the Sand, PKA's Advocate, Enigma, Mylxine, Clockwise Cat. After he received his B.S. degree in business from the University of Florida, he worked in the business world for two years, then got job as a reporter at The Destin Log, in Destin, Florida. He has been working on a novel the past few years.

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