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William Jay Smith
William Jay Smith
William Jay Smith was born in 1918 in Winnfield, Louisiana. He studied...
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Mr. Smith

by William Jay Smith

How rewarding to know Mr. Smith, 
   Whose writings at random appear!
Some think him a joy to be with 
   While others do not, it is clear.

His eyes are somewhat Oriental, 
   His fingers are notably long;
His disposition is gentle,
   He will jump at the sound of a gong.

His chin is quite smooth and uncleft, 
   His face is clean-shaven and bright,
His right arm looks much like his left, 
   His left leg it goes with his right.

He has friends in the arts and the sciences; 
   He knows only one talent scout;
He can cope with most kitchen appliances, 
   But in general prefers dining out.

When young he collected matchboxes, 
   He now collects notebooks and hats;
He has eaten roussettes (flying foxes), 
   Which are really the next thing to bats!

He has never set foot on Majorca, 
   He has been to Tahiti twice,
But will seldom, no veteran walker, 
   Take two steps when one will suffice.
He abhors motorbikes and boiled cabbage; 
   Zippers he just tolerates;
He is wholly indifferent to cribbage, 
   And cuts a poor figure on skates.

He weeps by the side of the ocean, 
   And goes back the way that he came;
He calls out his name with emotion-- 
   It returns to him always the same.

It returns on the wind and he hears it 
   While the waves make a rustle around;
The dark settles down, and he fears it, 
   He fears its thin, crickety sound.

He thinks more and more as time passes, 
   Rarely opens a volume on myth.
Until mourned by the tall prairie grasses, 
   How rewarding to know Mr. Smith!

From The World Below the Window: Poems 1937-1997 by William Jay Smith, page 138. Copyright © 1998 by William Jay Smith. Reprinted with the permission of Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved.
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