Bruce Smith



I know how long a moment is, she told him

In the remembered other time, impatient as a starling

in a New York minute, a heartbeat, the famous turning

for the grub, twitching, impatient as the roof

of two or three seconds

for the rain, playing wrong right. Stop it,

the proof was Mozart or Coltrane. Time a need

stop it, you said to the heat, the invisible

what satisfies the intervals, the other end of the

hands and feet flailing at you

song you remembered you were in the middle of

across the border of yourself in your summer

a voice, a body in its moment of nap and dream:

stop it, you said to the invisible sister prying

two of three seconds worth of other light, the open

apart the lips of your cuts before you were seized by

and shut case of sex—an age in an instant, a time between

the machine of your culture or the man of your dreams

the tadpole and the soul

the answer was in the gloriosa lily, the mother

time changed its signature

in the vinegar, the gaskets and seals of the father

on the way home from the funeral

time's the open casket you need

up tempo to flay the flagging spirit

to see it, to answer it, to fix and measure it

to make the most graceful ruckus possible

to rekill time in the key of B.


86 IS NOW 84

It's late in the time of Reagan

A dream in which we touch the steering wheel's dark vertebrae,

the signs at Hartford point to our diminishment, everything

in the sealed beam, carried away from her curled form

reduced by two—86 is now 84, two bricks shy

at four AM when the police surround the sleeping

so no one knows. The moon overruns the soft shoulders

A minute ago I was lover, lip, away

trickle down theory of November. It's tar bar and can't see

I loved her like the cutbank loves the river, now

in the American territories of Ives and Stevens and Twain

hum and hiss—mammal and reptile—in the hold of

now there's a manly land. Demur or delirious light in which

this ark in the rain, two of everything, animal and supreme

Connecticut congratulates itself. The illusion's pastoral—the outside

being, lover and ex. Headlights in the mirror. Suddenly

tucked and fretted and possessed, the inside rosewood harmonium

the North American fury of a black Buick

shadow and synecdoche. Heartbeat and hyperbole. Nighttime

entitled with the night, gorgeous and fierce, it's mighty, mighty

is Einstein and Eisenhower on a radio talk show, light matters

it's a metal suitcase full of money, a gerund, an Amen

Is there nothin' I can say, is there nothin' I can do

it's a comet, it's Hollywood, it's a success

to change your mind, I'm so in love witchyoo

Nothing fucks with it. Nothing spins this fast and lives

unconsoled white men singing Emotional Rescue. The road holds

MR SUM—1 behind the panes of smoked glass

me in its blasted democratic arms and rocks me until

I have the illusion of moving backwards as you pass

I give up, give in. The road has my pulse and my permission

and the green-gold afterimage of the riveting

to move me and keep me still. Some time

and acetylene, the brake and throttle and exhaust

expended, two gallons less, two less eternity teeth

I used to have a soul, but now I'm an American