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Friday, July 13, 2012


by J.D. Smith

The languages will keep vanishing,
speaker by aged speaker, before
or after the creatures they have named.

The Northwest Passage will open
and be contested among the nations,
Antarctica’s jagged pie
sliced by flags.

These are not the fruits of one soul,
undone by a vigil,
nor tests that yield to craft and strength
like a riddle, or a sword sheathed in stone.

Instead, think of the Dutch boy
stopping a dike
while waves break over his head,
their foam filling in
for the wool of long-counted sheep.

What’s left to do for now
is nothing, the respite of a grindstone
spared until the morrow’s work and weather,
or a few lost hours to recover,
like Prometheus’ liver.

J.D. Smith’s third collection, Labor Day at Venice Beach, will be published later this year, as will his first humor collection, Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth. His poems have appeared in journals and sites including 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry and Texas Review. He has work forthcoming in Dark Mountain 3.