Monday, July 31, 2017


Had any self-respecting
man of the cloth 
actually witnessed

this—ecstatic and 
alabaster young friar

out there wandering 
deep in his own garden,

high on his 
hunger and preaching sweet
and ever-sweeter

to the birds—

he would have scoffed,
guffawed, pointed, and 
just about 

laughing out loud—

instead of 
either by employing those 
little yellow 

canaries' favorite method—singing,
or else,

his own vastly preferred 
and time-honored way—cursed,

and tired,
and finally—of miserable
old age.

Friday, July 28, 2017


Older Americans
are too proud
of their grandkids—

they're always taking
up way
too much
room on the sidewalk,

The Beatles a
little too much,

all the good
groceries right
before me, and single-

handedly keeping
the film industry
from being "a thing."

They insist on
taking all of their meals
on-time and
in-order—and literally

out-loud at network
television (which is

They do such a
good job sticking
to a "daily routine"
that it's starting to
usurp all my
hope for the future,

and they know
to manage things like heart
conditions, stress,
and diabetes

the same way I know
how to use
a flyswatter.

Older Americans
who are too proud of
their grandkids also "don't really
like poetry." But they're careful

never to blame the authors—
yet they refuse
to lay the blame
on themselves for it, either, because

they simply haven't got the time
or the energy
to worry about things
that don't define them anymore

I'm starting
to think—frankly,

do I.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


One day in late July, when the mirage
of five
o'clock in the afternoon
still looms

a huge droning
honey bee
might be the only
one who's not dreaming—

moving outward
from the center, he endeavors
to scour
the entire fortune

of the lone sun-
emerging from
trilling tufts of wild dill—

there, at the still point
of the swift-turning
universe, at the realest
place in existence,

spitting and sucking,
he makes the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


The message
is actually

exactly the same;
it's just that—


all these

personal ads, whereas

goes for billboards—

Maintain. Maintain.
Maintain. Maintain.

But depending
on where

you see this—it makes you
feel either

or disgusting—

which then
makes you wish

a custodian
really did exist, so that

could be the one

to come down here
and plunge this

that's not flushing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Amid the rippling
of white clover, spiraling
out on a
kelly green lawn

where here
and there, a few robins
go gliding,
sheathed in silence
through the
yawn of late day,

on a small blanket
with the glad aftermath
of kool-aid and
cold chicken—

a drowsy ten-year-old,
Raul maybe,
and nestles
closer, and keeps hugging

his short plump abuela,
who murmurs
some soft string
of lullaby lyrics
he doesn't understand,

but which probably
roughly, to—
it's true,
there's no such thing
as heaven,

and if God exists,
he is not
great. No, he isn't
great at all—

but some days, he
sure knows
how to give it
a shot.

Monday, July 24, 2017


You've probably
noticed it by now—that
the best sensations

are never found
in the place where
they come from, that

the tantalizing late July sunlight
is your toughest antagonist
when you look directly at it.

You've likely felt it too,
how summer—the true season,
which you swear you've experienced,

with its ripe
tomato-red, immaculate
white of bleached,

enriched bread, and undersea
blue of doo-wop
music under poplar shade—

how it never really
comes upon you; it's always
just around that next leafy corner,

until—wait, now there it is,
back there, behind
the sepia-toned last.

And there's something
illusory too—something
of a magic trick, even to these

hazy backyard barbecues
and dizzy pool parties
with friends and neighbors

when you're disoriented,
heavy with sun
and charcoal smoke

and too hungry to notice
in the moment—how it's never
that hot dog itself

that you're smelling; it's
the fire, the supernatural
smell of ashy fat and charred metal,

and most of all, it's
those little onions—stubborn
ugly vegetables, now

translucent, tortured and sweating out
their acrid toughness—it's just onions
you're after, all along.

Friday, July 21, 2017


The beginner's mind
seems like
such a hopelessly difficult thing
to come by

after Todd,
the candid landscape architect,
stands and ends
his rain-plagued tour

of the garden grounds
by stating, as if
it were fact—that
the pruned

juniper hedges
flanking the whole perimeter,
which somehow trap
and hold the spearmint

smell of summer thunder-
storms long past,
and which
somehow even manage

to ensnare the silvery
light of the moon
in a neatly repeatable

that even the homeliest
little spider's nest
is more breath-
lessly intricate

than any
cartoon web you could
draw or
picture in your head—

obviously, just make
the whole

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Like some set from
a Hollywood
movie that

I would have indecorously missed
the first twenty
minutes of,

the subway-
tiled urban


hair salon
waiting room—

an electric blue vintage

fridge full
of Michelob—

the kind
in those little
8 oz. faux-bottle rocket ships—

and I
can only think,
as I catch

my first nervous
glimpse in there

from the
dopey red leather

where I've
hardly ever felt
more professional-

ly juvenile
and vulnerable
in my life—

those sorts of
bewildering props

must be
for all the
bumbling understudies

who go
around showing up
a few minutes


Wednesday, July 19, 2017


In the hard glint of afternoon sun,
you can't really think,
except to realize

you're not actually
very far away—you've never been
closer to home; and now,

when the intellect
is mercifully diminished
all your senses quickly sharpen—

and you can almost hear
the noiseless stealth
of shiny black ants

as they bustle back
and forth in the
sidewalk cracks—

and practically smell
the sweet breath of lazy
vines across all of the

brick walls all exhaling—and
for the first time in a while,
really see all these

sweet plucky children
come streaking
out the open

doors of squat shops
with pinstriped window awnings
and go

surging like a flood
through the streets
of this lakeside downtown

with meaningful streaks
of brown and pink and seashell
white on their cold cheeks

and remember
that there used to be so many
unique ways to get here,

because fudge,
after all, is not really
a candy—it's a process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Turns out,
my freest
moments are always

in which I'm
able to forget

that all my thoughts
have been

And how they might
come spaced,
like skinny trees

through little iron
cages in the cement—
the products

of conscientious
urban planning
and development—

each one similar
in size and shape,
distinctly separate

but almost always
all considered

as one thing. Yes,
like this

are the best,
the truth is

all that stuff—
like distance
and time

and space
and whatever—
are nice,

but they're just
options—not to mention

Monday, July 17, 2017


It's okay. There's always
a bridge—a giant
twinkling mythological creature

stretched and sleeping
over the churning
curve of fresh water,

a way back—
if you think
you ever need one.

But, you don't think—
you grip
tight to the silver

rails of this rented
catamaran in the crisp wind,
and you deepen,

like that distant
bridge's prodigiously
thick foundations

into the dark and
Paleolithic limestone bedrock;

while topside,
your rigid little
bones and tight skin

begin to loosen—
from being whipped across
the straits of Mackinac

this great and turbulent
confluence of gray
glass mirrors—called Superior

and Huron. And from now on,
there's no tolls to pay,
just a frozen Bluetooth

and a hiccuping 4G connection.
It's okay. This is not
the end of the world—it's

the top.
The edge as you know it,
the peak

as you like it, and as they
will all probably
like it too—

online, in a few
carefully curated pictures
a few days later.

Friday, July 7, 2017


This is addressed to you,
the one,
true reader,

even if we never meet
or understand
one another—please

let this
poem stand for

the opposite
of prayer—

no sparkling
to the sacred sky,

just these mealy words
to ground you
to the earth,

to fermented treasure
troves of dirt, actual apple trees,
sequoia groves;

may it point away
from god
and curl more in-tight—

toward goodness,
toward all those faultless,
and guiltless

protons and electrons.

And may it point outward too,
toward that

you truly are.

All of
the time.

No matter
what else:

a primate—

in a gorgeous electro-
magnetic field.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Some days, I wake up
and feel like
the only thing I'm able
to write

my own name

Dan Smart: sort of bent
and crumpled,

stretched thin and
maybe kind of subtly
yelling at everyone;

and I try to fix
the way it looks
with a few quick cups
of black coffee,

but each one only
makes the letters
look bolder

and then adds another
strenuous (though impressive)
punctuation mark to it.

If it hasn't grown
too long, it's still able
to walk the dog
and maybe exercise a little,

which seems to at least
drop it off
at the top
of a new paragraph;

but then, it's just stuck up there,
freaked-out by precarious
position it's in,
wondering how long

it can possibly
stay balanced
in any sort interesting
(read: readable) way

when it's reaching so
hard for what's clever
and hugging
what's miserable.

And would anyone
want to read that?

Then, I think—maybe
that's enough for today.

my name relaxes,
straightens out,
or at least
calms down enough

to be read
legibly again. And suddenly
it's like—except

for all the content,
this thing
writes itself.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


So—one day in the Starbucks, I
stopped. And tried 
to listen in, and between
the weak din

of the background hard bop and 
the murmuring traffic
outside on the Street, my sweet little 
conscience whispered 

to me: You know 
what? I take 
all it back—you shouldn't
listen to me,

and never wish 
upon a star. It may look 
pretty, all 
twinkly and infallibly faraway, 

but a star doesn't know anything 
about your past 
or current 
predicament. A star 

has never shit 
its pants as a little kid. 
A star has never 
had to get high on Krylon

just to face up to 
mowing the lawn. 
A star has never daydreamed
about whether there's  

life on Mars, causing it to
botch another work email,
or dreamed of a star 
that's technically its sister

out of weird pent-up sexual frustration;
it has certainly never had to 
get up and make its bed after 
such an incident happened, either.

Or even—not once, come 
to think of it—been through the 
sheer hell that is having
to wake up in the morning at all, 

let alone ever felt as 
jittery, small, and dismayed, 
as utterly futile, 
as preternaturally balanced

between anxious and dull—
as dirty 
and as pure 
as you're feeling now.