Two Sonnets by Bruce Smith



I’m an accountable someone taxied down runways indicated
by small sapphires of light and contraindicated

by the city’s heart condition, cataracts, and scum.
My inroads on the night are assisted by Valium

and are carried out at great heights by uniformed
men with well-modulated voices I’ve spent my entire life

to this belt-tightening, oedipal juncture hating. I’m off
and flawlessly yawed toward you, Miss Bliss,

that you may love me to Beast of Burden, or better,
Daddy, You’re a Fool to Cry, with its emotionally sleek,

sympathetic identification with all those who strive, seek,
come home from work, sleep—slower for all those whose rock

and roll is dance of hurt and release, hurt and release.
A voice I don’t believe tells me our ground-time here will be brief.


East of Eden

Easy for you to say my name in the cool heaven of your skin while
spooning the other, licking, speaking in tongues, showing your scars
to him where the apple left the stem. Naming the body’s Eden: he’s
adam, you’re Rib with Chomsky’s politics. I’m experience or
serpent. I’m not god or I would kill with the righteousness of U.S. foreign
policy. I’m disarmed without you. I’m deaf and mute like capital Him,
although I still see the new boy in his khaki. I’ve imagined him out of
love turned violent. Like Cain sent East of Eden. He’s James
Dean, you’re the sensitive girl who can understand the pain.
I’m everything father, unforgiving, the failed experiment, I’m
Nothing until the named thing nameless is and is destroyed.
God, I miss you. Send me a scent, a sign that however much you
Love in your post-colonial winter, you’ll shudder from the sight of
me, like some do the flag, the other, the snake making words beginning with S.

About the Author:

Bruce Smith was the 2012 winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. His most recent volume of poems, Devotions, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He teaches at Syracuse University.

“Flight” and “East of Eden” were first published in The Other Lover , University of Chicago Press, 2000.