May 1998

R.T. Smith


R.T. Smith

R.T. Smith
  Muffy Bolding
  John Kinsella
  Richard Foerster
  A.F. Moritz
  Miriam Levine
  Louis Armand
  David Shevin
  Stellasue Lee
  Adrian C. Louis
  David Sutherland
  Gregory Djanikian
  Paolo M. Bottigelli

J.M. Spalding
  R.T. Smith

William Heath

Douglas Thornsjo

R.T. Smith R.T. Smith, the editor of Shenandoah, has poems in recent issues of Poetry, The Georgia Review, Black Warrior Review, The Southern Review, Atlantic Monthly, and Poetry Northwest. His Trespasser (LSU, 1996) and Hunter-Gatherer (Livingston, 1996) were both nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
R.T. Smith Signature
Comet     Read Along with the Author

Sleepless again,
I went to the porch
to watch the comet

streaking its ice
across the sky.
The reliable stars

held their courses,
Orion and Gemini,
ignoring the drifter's

gesture that said,
Follow me. I remember
the great cedar

struck by lightning
when I was a child,
the way it shivered

and lit up but did
not break or blaze.
It died from the inside,

for two years
struggling to sustain
its green. When

my wife began
to accuse me of loving
another woman

and saw rivals
in every shadow,
I did not understand

that meant she would
never again listen
to me. Even now,

knowing the comet
is speeding in spite
of its seeming

stillness, I shiver
to remember those days
of happy madness

when I thought passion,
brilliant as a comet
or gleaming cedar,

could set us free.



Moth Aubade    Read Along with the Author

Downstairs early to mill
the morning coffee,
I find the kitchen wall

beside the lamp
is littered with moths
exhausted from a night

of circling the globe,
as if its light were
the source of joy.

As I approach in slippers
they hardly flutter
but hold their postures,

perhaps in their small
thoughts counting on me,
a frequent dreamer

still drowsy from reverie,
to show them mercy.
Pouring the beans, then

turning the worn handle
till the brass gears growl,
I study every wing

design—solid, striped
or mottled. To the Greeks
they were all psyche,

spirit drawn to flame,
but this August morning
I wish, before they perish,

to revive us all
with the scent of chicory
and conduct them out

the kitchen window
singing their luminous
individual names.



Unnatural Selection    Read Along with the Author

Now that I have peppered
the bird mix, the squirrels
are desperate, wire-walking

to the suet feeders, chewing
the cedar, raising a racket
as morning fog leaves

the meadow webs gleaming.
Ambling out with my basket
of sunflower seeds and millet,

I ask, Who has the right
to favor chickadees and quick
finches over the rodents

racketing on and sneezing
like people? The answer
language makes possible but

far from easy is, On this
white morning of stillness
and hunger, possibly me.



R.T. Smith: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue ThreeThe Cortland Review