October 5, 2020

“E T R A H” — The Poetry of Michael T. Smith

“E T R A H” — The Poetry of Michael T. Smith

E T R A H 
During the moon landing I was on earth  
But ever asked: how subjective is ‘here?’ 
At what point does famil’rity have birth? 
In a dark side of the sun place a hearth. 
Because a home of heart is without peer 
During the moon landing I was on earth 
Beg with a Styrofoam cup of such worth: 
Spacemen in a fishbowl of walls not clear. 
At what point does famil’rity have birth? 
For space to be on a premium dearth  
On a TV screen wide enough for cheer. 
During the moon landing I was on earth 
Hands held across a million miles in mirth 
Static dances for grains of a soiled year 
At what point does famil’rity have birth? 
Our empty hands surround a riddling girth  
A small doubloon of proximity ne’er near 
During the moon landing I was on earth 
At what point does famil’rity have birth? 

Just words  
Truth is I don’t know  
if any of my experiences are real, 
or if I’m only  
stuck in a memory or two, 
which is essentially the footer  
to all I do.  But  --  
can you tell me who I am  
from who I tell you? 
Or better to read me in the margins, 
in some text sous rature, 
for the truth is -- 
regardless of what either of us says -- full stop, 
I am a stranger unto reality, 
when so much of it exists  
outside of me.   
Can you tell me how you hurt the word? 
What you hate about yourself? 
How to be an outlaw for a dime? 
Who am I to judge what I  

Winter Afternoon 
I am writing a poem because it’s winter, 
and I am inside.  I don’t want to 
Right now, and 
       it shows – 
“Proving” my point by showing this poor muddle -- 
       better than the telling words, 
       flowery as they could be,  
       tattling in their own way,  
and reveling in my own circle of complaints. 


Ship of Fools 
This heavy Ship of Fools so soon cast off - 
The gentleman onboard, their hats they doff. 
Heads t’ follow, our thoughts dear but abaft are  
Stuffing that light in th’ madness of May ‘far. 
The court is a’ jester with an inf’nite smile. 
Hark! The two-headed coin of the gryllos  
Finds many maps in skel’tal trees virile – 
S’ they rest their many mouths on lead pillows. 
This sea of nothing, down our throats we quaff. 
O lo, we spiral down this dark Passion pit 
From Madrid’s silent tower falling off 
To jerk our movements into another fit. 
Do cold showers overhead skirt this place… 
For this Tree o’ Knowledge has a happy face? 

The Perception of My Own Grave 
The perception of my own grave 
Is always a long thought. 
Death becomes pictorial, 
Held by the thistled frame of tall grass. 
This mountain at a’ given distance 
All the more clear becomes  
When the artist’s jiggling hand 
Drops the coarse brush in art’s depiction. 
It seems a shame that anything  
But weeds should form this shroud. 
Yet th’ joke’s calling this plot mine 
When worms form my makeshift diadem


Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses.  He has published over 150 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 80 different journals.  He loves to travel. 
This is his first feature on The Fictional Café.

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