R. T. Smith was born in Washington, DC in 1947, and raised in Georgia and North Carolina. His books of poetry include The Hollow Log Lounge (University of Illinois Press, 2003), Brightwood (Louisiana State University Press, 2003), Messenger (2001), Split the Lark: Selected Poems (1999), Trespasser (1996), Hunter-Gatherer (1996), The Cardinal Heart (1991), and From the High Dive (1983). He has also published a collection of stories entitled Faith (1995) and edited Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (2003) with Sarah Kennedy. Trespasser and The Cardinal Heart were both nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Smith's other honors include grants in literature from Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. He has taught at Appalachian State University; Auburn University, where he served as Alumni Writer-in-Residence and co-editor of Southern Humanities Review; and Washington and Lee University. He has been a resident at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig in Ireland, the Millay Colony, and the Wurlitzer Foundation, and in 1998 he was Artist-in-Residence at the National Historical Park at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. R. T. Smith lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and has edited Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review since 1995.
Out for a deadbolt, light bulbs and two-by-fours, I find a flock of sparrows safe from hawks and weather under the roof of Lowe's amazing discount store. They skitter from the racks of stockpiled posts and hoses to a spill of winter birdseed on the concrete floor. How they know to forage here, I can't guess, but the automatic door is close enough, and we've had a week of storms. They are, after all, ubiquitous, though poor, their only song an irritating noise, and yet they soar to offer, amid hardware, rope and handyman brochures, some relief, as if a flurry of notes from Mozart swirled from seed to ceiling, entreating us to set aside our evening chores and take grace where we find it, saying it is possible, even in this month of flood, blackout and frustration, to float once more on sheer survival and the shadowy bliss we exist to explore.
From Messenger by R. T. Smith. Copyright © 2001 by R. T. Smith. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.