The Birth of Modern Poetry

by Ron Smith



Chucked out of the Academy,

                        he sails straight

            to a pastry shop

                                    where the darkness laps

                        the gossip in his head,

the whispers. That line

            lashed to that gondola:

                                    how it goes slack, goes taut.


                        exists in order

                                    to make people think,”

            he will tell the daughter

                        he can’t yet imagine and certainly

does not want. Does he know

                                    what he wants? A good pasta and something

            potable. Liquid darkness and sputtering tapers--

                                                flickers--but, sometimes

                                                                        hard as gems . . .

You can spend an evening

                                    in the mask shop

                        filling in

those empty eyes. Who really cares

                                                if he sinks or swims? Homer

                        and Isabel. Hilda and Bill. He eats, when he eats,

too fast. The knife’s silver edge: the grinding: that Yeats

                                    he reads and reads: he’ll get

            to goddamn London and change the world.

                                                Which way to change it? How do you know?

                        You make it new, make it up as you go,

                                                            and you keep on moving.


[“The Birth of Modern Poetry” first appeared in Terminus 11, December 2014.]