Robert Smith


I, whose bareness evades wrath, who beats the drum of culture and cataplana dinners, and rides
the marry-go-round of childhood out of pure irony, asks the question to bleeding rocks, to granite
idols, to stakes of
How will you scale the wall when everyone else is over?
Bleak light, Camel-smoke air, on mid-town, mid-year, midnight walk. Pounding, forced
vibrations on my feet, and fade-in and pass we hold our breaths through the smoke hour-
seconds. We.
I, whose broken apple, corporate trained, mommy get, get me, pointing at the T.V screen and
flailing’s mind, whose tree line potential root, dirt, earth achievements want, want, want. I.
I, who’s wound up energy caused the stale water, salty tears, to drip from her cheek and find the
corner of her mouth. Whose tangled toes wrapped the edge of the bed in anger when I
called for you and get a door banging in the draft of parenting.
I, who was shipped by court order to live alone, among the scholars of null. Who watched a
decade of cocaine and alcohol pass through a street of godliness. Who wiped their asses with the
stone tablets of Moses–Moses. When China manufactured our bones, but only wanted what
they could squeeze out of them. And when Chinglish men spoke through funnels, aimed at
the cement gods, hoping for some epiphany, but only got an epitaph and a two hour service.
I, who ate the ground life to impress no one, to leave an imprint, to grind the sand against my
teeth from the dirt nails of childhood. Whose rumors only mattered, and defending yourself was
cause for jump. Manifest Peabody, the end of the world, the edge of life.
I, who counted the trees on a film reel drive home from the retirement, and wept when I didn’t
know what was after one thousand. I, who shook the Polaroid because I asked, not because I took
the picture. I, who posed like a trophy for what was the second raising. I who’s mind is an
archipelago of spotted memories, water, and emptiness splattered by random occurrences and
millions of years of pressure and fighting.
No! I, who climbed the maple, leaving the hanging foot, so you could get up as well. I, who dug,
and dug, in search of gold, real gold, no metaphor gold, and found more dirt. Childhood lies, manipulations, busy minds, busy pockets, busy wallets, busy living.
I, who studied in ivy halls, not the books, but the walls. I, who covered maggot-covered linoleum
with a bootstrap heel, and shifted eyes towards the blankness. I, with embarrassment of lineage
hid my family tree. I, who chopped down the family tree for fire wood. I who waterlogged the
firewood and left it to the wrath of god to be spoiled. I who use it as a stump to sit upon.
I, whose kindred spirits sparked with ash and bone in the emptiness of love. I, who sought youth
in you, but found I could not steal years. I, who’s bartering ways never sees the black.
Whose thumbprint felt like a whirlpool. I, who only knows the warmth of you through
cracked memories and undeleted texts. I, who destroyed my body in wake of your leaving.
I, who must put it back together.

Robert Smith was born on the west side of Buffalo and raised on the south side. His work is a reflection of the city that he was cultivated in, stream of consciousness and Frankenstein. After his first chapbook “Salt Guns & Bunkbeds” was published earlier this year, he spent a majority of the summer traveling the U.S. reading and pushing books.