J.D. Smith



It is too dark to tell

a white thread from a black,

a man’s silhouette from a woman's.


A finger and what it meets—

wall or air—

are a continuum.


The line between near and far

is subsumed in this dark,


unbroken by thunder, undone

by gunshot no more

than a fist disperses fog.


It admits no answer

but a low voice

full and round as itself,

fitting like a hand

over another's hand,


a model of forgiveness

or its simulacrum.



Two economies revolve

at a distance from each other.   

The standard round of goods and services,

accounted for in money, measures

the ability to make money.

A second is priced

in a softer currency of words

and smiles, fond looks, and bodies

offered up to other bodies.


Distinct as a digit,

each market meshes, takes its course

and bears its half of being.

Inclining toward each other, though,

they go awry, as witnessed

in resorts of graying men hard by

their underannuated second wives.


The first are not discussed—

long-past transactions;

the third are not projected

for the current fiscal year,

but opportunities arise

and must be seized.


As well, demand exists

for kissing booths at fairs,

and corollary services,

euphemized as escort and massage.

If the seller sells by choice,

she, or he, may hold

no other stock in trade.


To take a different coin was,

in some accounts, what Christ asked of Magdalene.

Choosing—not again, but for the first time—

she found passage on a chariot

whose wheels took separate paths.


J.D. Smith has published two collections of poetry, including Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections, www.cherry-grove.com), and the children's book The Best Mariachi in the World. His one-act play "Dig" was produced at London's Old Red Lion Theatre in June 2010 and has been optioned for film. His essay collection Dowsing and Science is forthcoming from Texas Review Press. Updates are available at http://jdsmithwriter.blogspot.com.  His first collection was The Hypothetical Landscape. He also edited the anthology Northern Music: Poems about and Inspired by Glenn Gould. His work has received three Pushcart nominations, and his prose has appeared in Chelsea, Exquisite Corpse, Grist and Pleiades.



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