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About this poet

Maggie Smith received a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MFA from the Ohio State University. She is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the 2012 Dorset prize and a 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award; and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award. Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others. She works as a freelance writer and editor and serves as a consulting editor to the Kenyon Review. She lives in Bexley, Ohio.

Accidental Pastoral

I must have just missed a parade—
horse droppings and hard candy
in the road, miniature American
flags staked into the grass, plastic
chairs lining the curb down this

two-lane highway, 36 in the open
country, briefly Main Street in town.
When I was small, I sat on a curb
only a dozen miles from here, my feet
in the ashtray-dirty gutter, and watched

stars-and-stripes girls wheeling
their batons, slicing the sun-dumb
air into streamers. I can still hear
the click of cellophaned candies
on pavement. I didn’t want to

leave town, not then, and I never left.
I am not a parade, my one car passing
through Centerburg, Ohio, too late.
The chairs are empty. The children
are unwrapping golden butterscotches

in the cool, shuttered houses.
But look up—the clouds are stories
tall, painted above Webb’s Marathon,
and flat-bottomed as if resting on something
they push against though it holds them.

From Weep Up (Tupelo Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author.

From Weep Up (Tupelo Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author.

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is the author of The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the 2012 Dorset prize and a 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award, and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005). 

by this poet

poem
The starlings choose one piece of sky above the river

      and pour themselves in. Like a thousand arrows 

              pointing in unison one way, then another. That bit of blue

      doesn’t belong to them, and they don’t belong to the sky,

or to the earth. Isn’t that what you’ve
poem

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate,

poem

When my daughter drizzles gold
on her breakfast toast, I remind her

she’s seen the bee men in our tree,
casting smoke like a spell until

the swarm thrums itself to sleep.
She’s seen them wipe the air clean

with smoke, the way a hand smudges
chalk from a slate, erasing