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SA Smythe

it was saturday, and then it got colder

how do we relegate bleak relics to the past?

i crave feelings made of buildings
and not signs. they tell me:
he is away and not coming home.
not tonight. not ever.

so then, let’s get on our bicycles and ride
in the dark. in absence. in educated guesses.
all of my new estimates are proving to be right:
my life is assembled out of thin

birch branches. now you know
everything: i was unnaturally lit from within.

that’s my bow-tie at the scene of the crime,
but do not look to me. i will not be prepared.



cancer came to our home last autumn
turned slow death in winter
despite o u t ward pleas, the world did not stop
arrangements were made and
techniques were discussed for survival
mourning in, mourning out.
deliberate disconnect when
my own diagnosis was still lacking.
           began the study of paper;
the classification of every space between
lines. the estate plans. the blueprints.
the old love letters and the yellowed
post-it notes scribbled with
my graduation dates and all
the pragmatic yet inspiring things
he left erect but unfinished, like bridges.
you know, lately i’ve been learning
the method of organising
ghosts; the validation
now necessary for me
to be present in
old rooms.
i found decisions i never knew
i’d made. how typical, i thought. how linear.
how analysis. though all i wanted you to do was try
to tell me a love i could never forget
(my years now picked apart), i’m convinced
i hear your unstrung echo in my chambered bones.

Rictus Exululatus
(Or, why Silence is Rust)

because the terror i once knew
was my face behind glass.
i got no gratitude for being
a door of inaudible wood

you could have said to leave a gun
with bullets in my name
under the tiny guise of riddles
one never forgot to keep quiet

crawl our own heads like flies.
(forgive me the blank it was
thirst, for your mouth

or the shadow of a memory
i can't tell.) my ashen goodbye
will wash your feet with lavender,

with apricots, with candlewicks
now swirled lightly as worms
wriggling through loam liberated.

and with all my weight known and
the blades of my nails swallowed,
i choose to forget my old beast of tread

and direction, for it went
on, goes on still and will
not end.



if we have a  quantifiable

and it is subject to the rules of quantum physics
and we know of energy states and that sub-atomic particles

zip in and out of our universe, does our

move in and out of a particular reality
to another? like a lunch tray,

are we crazy because we assume
since we're using one

that's the same
colour and size that it's

the same one,
the same one
that we always use?

SA Smythe

SA Smythe is a black British queer who has lived in Berlin, Forlì, NYC, and Oakland, finally settling on Santa Cruz, where she is currently pursuing a PhD in History of Consciousness. SA occasionally does translation work in Italian, Russian, and Spanish. She has been published both online and in zines and is a part of the soft
, a literary collective.


Spring 2012

Vinnie Hansen
Clifford Henderson

Vergere Street
Dena and Becky Taylor

Bri Bruce
SA Smythe
Debra Spencer
J. Zimmerman

Morton Marcus Poetry Runners-Up
Curt Anderson
Catherine Segurson
David Sullivan

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