Monday, October 20, 2014

"Frequent Disputations With the Earth": A poem by Robert Lavett Smith

Image lifted from The Homeless Finch

Blurbing--it's an ugly verb for a necessary thing.  Blurbing is something writers do for other writers and for literature itself.  We pore over a book and try to distill its essence into a few sentences that will--we hope--help readers pick that book out from a shelf of others.  Today I hunkered down to write a blurb for The Widower Considers Candles--the wonderful new poetry collection from my longtime friend, Robert Lavett Smith.  

Sometimes the shortest pieces can be the hardest to write.  There were so many things I wanted to say about Bob's manuscript.  Those three sentences took me hours to get right, and I'd still be struggling over them if I hadn't forced myself to stop and hit send.

The book is due out in late 2014 from Full Court Press.  In the meantime, here's one of my favorites from among an assortment of gems, first published in the journal Decanto.

 
Torn

            Vestis virum reddit.
                        —Quintilian


There are holes in even my fanciest clothes
from frequent disputations with the earth.
Gracelessness has cultivated a long acquaintance
with stones, with grass.

And how can I hope to mend them
with hands as unsteady as these?
As well try threading starlight
through the eye of the risen moon.

Nights, warp and woof give way
like a dead language unraveling;
even so splendid a costume as memory
begins to fray—

style and cut decades out of date:
the fabric, dimmed by deepest solitude,
gnawed by insectile swarms of regret,
and every tear, a tear.

Lifted from Spirit Cloth










Though I was a mere undergraduate, Bob


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