I walked in the romantic garden and I walked in the garden of ruin. I walked in the green-skinned, black-skinned garden of Osiris who was ripped to pieces and reformed and adored. I walked in that wet, incestuous plot. Am I the only one who reads for innocence? I walked in the garden of Amadou Diallo whose shadow
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What Are They Doing in the Next Room
Are they unmaking everything?
Are they tuning the world sitar?
Are they taking an ice pick to being?
Are they enduring freedom in Kandahar?
Sounds, at this distance, like field hollers,
sounds like they’ll be needing CPR.
Sounds like the old complaint of love and dollars.
Sounds like when Coltrane met Ravi Shankar
and the raga met the rag and hearing
became different and you needed CPR
after listening and tearing was tearing
and love was a binary star—
distant bodies eclipsing each other
with versions of gravity and light.
Sounds like someone’s trying to smother
the other—a homicide or a wedding night.
The television derives the half-full hours.
Time exists as mostly what’s to come.
Losing also is ours…
I meant that as a question.
Is I the insomniac’s question?
Are you a dendrite or a dream?
Between oblivion and affection,
which one is fear and which protection?
Are they transitive or in?
Are they process or product?
Are they peeling off the skin?
Are they Paris or the abducted?
They’re reading something after Joyce,
post modern stuff that can be read
but not understood except as voices
rising and falling from the dead.
Do they invent me
as I invent their faces?
I see surveillance gray wasted
with bliss at having thieved identities.
In the AM, when tú turns to usted,
the sun clocks in to overwrite the night
with hues and saturations and the red
hesitates for a second to be incarnate.
Smith is the author of six poetry collections, including Devotions (University of Chicago Press, 2011), which was the recipient of the 2012 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.