Steps

I was seventeen
new license, old car
had a g i r l f r i e n d
Laura, who’d come over
and fuck, if it was safe

but the winter was hard

the house had steep steps
going way up that my father
refused to salt

“it eats the blocks”

“I’ll replace them

in the spring—swear”

“no” he said

the ice was two inches thick
I called Laura on her line

“sorry, I won’t go up those steps

I like being alive”

I tried to melt the mess
with a small blow torch
but he took it from me

“you’ll burn down the house

go take a cold shower.”

the night went on
I went for a walk
a friend had beer up the block
when I came home, late
my mom was on the couch
smoking a cigarette in the dark
“your father had an accident

on the steps” I laughed

“it’s not funny, his feet flew out

he crashed all the way down”

“where is he now?”

“his room”

“he’s not paralyzed”

“no”

“so, it’s a little funny”

“go salt the goddamn steps”

sure, but first
I rang up Laura.

***

The Medicine I’m On

let’s me see the earth spin
like a dime flicked on a glass table
the medicine I’m on
had me float last night through
I’d guess 100,000 waterfalls
looking behind each
for a beer, or a pit of wishes
or even the lost plug to the drain
the medicine I’m on
whistles at ghosts drinking rain
and lets dogs loose from clotheslines
or cats skidding in the marble
halls of the mountain king
the medicine I’m on
and has no interest in pinball
town hall or supermarket death
the medicine I’m on glues me down
slows blue time, makes me understand
that when I’m not sick, I can wrestle
a lion, for now, I’ll be over here, on fire
hit me with the hose if you can.

***

Bud Smith grew up in NJ, and currently lives in Washington Heights, NYC. His books are the short story collection, Or Something Like That, the novel Tollbooth and the poetry collection Everything Neon. His writing has recently appeared at Smokelong, Metazen, TheNewerYork, The Nervous Breakdown, and Wordriot, among others. Smith hosts The Unknown Show; edits at Jmww and Uno Kudo; works heavy construction in power plants and refineries. www.budsmithwrites.com

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One Response to Two Poems by Bud Smith

  1. Ken S says:

    I like how you jog the readers mind from the poem’s apparent path to a surprising finish…when your mother tells that your father fell on the ice and with the second one when you write…I’ll be over here, on fire hit me with the hose if you can. Reminds me of the sort of surprise build into haiku. Well done.

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