Michael Dwayne Smith
Forgive Us All
Split lip from falling over a footstool
with three fingers of Johnnie Walker in a crystal rocks glass
I bought on Amazon, blue Christmas Eve.
Got cleaned up by lunch.
Had those vagrant-red, goose-lid eyes you see on TV
in beaten downtown bars where everyone drinks
Kessler or Ten High.
My boss’s son was murdered by white supremacists at Cal State.
Everything frosted over in the morning.
I slowed down, ate too much rich food, stopped trying.
My wife was happy to have her sickly mother to worry about
instead of me.
Time is a trick.
This toothsome, sixty-something black guy
with a bushy moustache,
wearing a seven spiked crown and a pink prom dress,
leaned out a passing car window to shout
I say yes! I forgive you all!, then blew me a kiss.
Remember Miss Liberty, she said, riding into a sunrise.
When the moon was fat that bright white morning
I walked right through the muscle of her pink breath.
She’s on the river’s other side,
where I can see horses and passerines,
wild blue sweetclover.
I keep calling up strength to make the swim over.
Same moon at night.
There is no sleep outside her,
her a cracked bell, with the drag queen clapper.
Northbound Mojave Highway
There are only so many stories in all the world,
and they are all the same.
In this story,
there is a long-dead woman,
grief-stricken. In this story,
there is a son obsessed
with a father’s death.
Any evidence that can be recorded
has equal significance:
the father as a young tough, his leather jacket,
and here are the names
of the Corona High School girls
who watched him, of the long-dead Rosemead girl
who touched him,
and see here those
doo-wop song lyrics they all sang to
on the car radio,
those naive lines flowing
into all of his old love letter’s sentences,
then the inevitable marriage license,
and birth certificates.
The long-dead woman he used to write to
bursts into tears,
desert rain, into which her son floods and steers.
About the Author: Michael Dwayne Smith lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued animals. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, recipient of the Hinderaker Award for poetry and Polonsky Prize for fiction, his work haunts Skidrow Penthouse, Cortland Review, Word Riot, Chiron Review, New World Writing, WhiskeyPaper, and other houses.