Before the Storm

Two days out before the storm
we began gathering candles
from all those places one hides them,
puts them away for when needed,
old ones limned with the scent of mothballs,
half melted Christmas candles,
whatever we could find and matches,
a bic lighter, an old iron lantern

and yet wind blew the darkness in.
The human body is a fragile frame
for all the fires you carry within you.
Winter carves us out, bares our ribs
each cycle of twelve new moons.
Some leaves tossed upon the wind
last longer than others but dust is dust.

The human body is an invincible tunnel
running between darkness and lightning
beneath all the generations of moons
ever written of …

and what the data measures,

is not what makes a person
marry or build a home or work a job
or overthrow a government or tyrant
or lie down in the sweet grass of a meadow
filling his day only with the thrum of insects
gathering pollen and spreading seeds
in chaotic patterns across the universe;

What the data measures is
merely the size and shape of temporary
tubes of matter that meander like rivers
descended like snow fallen on mountains,
descending to the valleys below matched
to the contour of land rather than spirit.





Jared Smith’s sixteenth volume of poetry, A Sphere Encased in Fires and Life, will be released this spring by New York Quarterly Press. His work has appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies in the US and abroad. He is Poetry Editor of Turtle Island Quarterly, and has served on the boards of literary and arts non-profits in New York, Illinois, and Colorado.

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