Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.
Drafts, poems by Jordan Smith.
The paper of the notebook was, as he preferred it, gray.
The ink, gray, only a little darker.
The notes in the margins blurred into the text;
The commentary into the writer’s distractions.
He has crossed out facetious where he meant to write fractious,
Or fractal or fragment.
Is that last F a capital? And the X that follows,
An abandoned pseudonym?
So faint the contrast, so idiosyncratic his penmanship
Even he had difficulty reading it.
And the early revisions, each
Only the slightest variation on what came before.
Any one of them would have done as well as any other.
Craft was never the problem he thought it was.
Not compared to his fondness for subtlety,
Refined with each page, and the sentiment more obscured,
The moral diffused, the ink thinning until…
Well, why do you think we have studied him for so long,
With a frustration that has come to seem
Like love, if love is like this.
I am listening for the drone under everything.
Not the white noise of the ferns in a little breeze,
Not the broken percussive hush of pine needles on the wide path along the ridge,
The (de)crescendo of tires on Kinns Road.
If there was a chord in the wind through the oaks
And then another, I might have guessed
Where all this was going.
If there was certainty like that, I could have stopped listening
© Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is the author of eight full-length books of poems, most recently Little Black Train, winner of the Three Mile Harbor Press Prize, Clare’s Empire, a fantasia on the life and work of John Clare from The Hydroelectric Press, and The Light in the Film from the University of Tampa Press. He has also worked on several collaborations with artist, Walter Hatke, including What Came Home and Hat & Key. The recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, he lives with his wife, Malie, in upstate New York, where he plays fiddle and is the Edward Everett Hale Jr., Professor of English at Union College.