a poem about waiting for weightlessness to heal grief

photo by Alejandro ezquerro at Unsplash

A Lifeguard Squints to Read

Another grey day breaks against the coast. Shadowed seals
bark as slips of white foam sink into the sand.
The ache of hauling driftwood, in full view of the forest,
fills my lungs like a fog. The beach, empty of conversation, runs north, returns south like a dog sure of the direction of gulls.

Our father swam long in the waves while the family, shivering in towels, strained to see the curl of his arms. The brothers broke
rank skipping stones in an echo of his heartbeats…

a poem about retreating in advance of ideas

photo by Callum Hill at Unsplash

A morning crew man suspended by helicopter cables resembles an overhead cow. This woodland retreat no longer features a respite
from political machines. A hired leaf blower rips a two stroke engine
to tidy the off season patio. It’s election eve and the American air is violenced.

Tourists in Adironack chairs turn their necks to follow the arrow straight ducks escaping to the canyon shadows. The local kids rev ATV’s, spin cookies in the fallen aspen leaves gilding the frontage road to the Trinity River. The National Park bares scars…

or what if poetry is a game show with no host?

I sought professional help. I suspect some of you wondered what took so long, but admitting I need therapy more than careful editing took some doing. Had to look in the mirror with the lights on and realize I’ve been chasing the wrong ghost image around in my blockheadia. I signed up for a poetry workshop that promised to be fun. Fun? I rejected that notion. …

an essay on process and prayer

photo by Jeremy Yap at Unsplash

SSubmittable as unto the Lord

Poets write for intimate strangers. The editors of literary magazines presume to know us when asking for poems for their magazines and then assume they know what our readers
prefer to read. It’s a highly subjective process and when you add the reading fee to the
process it can become prohibitive. Fitting into the margins of the printed page is meant to
be part mysterious and part miracle. It’s a lot like prayer.

Preparation and careful editing of a piece, so that it reads spontaneously, is encouraged,
even taught…

a blog about unlocking the prison within

photo by Francesca Runza at Unsplash

I’m going back to prison and I can hardly wait. It’s been fifteen months since I was inside the State of California’s version of the Pearly Gates. Pandemic protocols are relaxing to allow volunteers, such as myself, to meet with the inmates. I’ve been offering chapel services at Pelican Bay State Prison, just an hour and a half from my home, for the better part of ten years and I’ve never been so excited to return. …

a poem about what’s not yet not

photo by Kyle Bushnell at Unsplash

I repair your guitar in a
bath of broken glass, these
are the new blues, frozen
specimens, blood tipped
tiles and light disappearing
outside a window.

One hand sidles smoke
two hands grip an ostrich
from the sand insisting
the repeating song is changed
by repeating songs our
father failed to mention.

The earth bends grey the
sea green a name carved
in a bench wants to sing
the faded initials the heart
long closed to the knife
promising permanence.

The fallen take care of
business logic allows
a moment to follow another
another time…

a traveling poem of travail

photo by Rigel at Unsplash

I went to Africa in this shirt,
short sleeved, cotton, blue
collar to appreciate water
as treasure and see broken glass,
affixed to a compound wall, spread
rainbows of the drought.

Diesel fumes force my nose
back to cattle in traffic my eyes
white as my skin and the glove
slapping the bus window to
halt for the stick driven parade
of centuries past, present

and threatened. Yogurt hawkers
pocket the same dollars as
missionary Mercedes trunks flagged
through the intersection, chickens
swing by their plucked feet
to Gospel market music.

Only science can prove…

a poem about reparation and reclamation

I halved the fig, lopped it
low to foster runners at the base.
The tree, retrieved from an
abandoned garden, staked
against the wind overriding the vane
neighboring fence.

The expectant fruit only a hope
the cost of new dirt a hobby’s
expense. The leaves so famous
bend green from the branch
respond to hose water with
a curl of the lip like Elvis.

Growing things rewrite ink stains
with mud, the deep roots read
like a back story, fingers grip
ache and tend to the plot in a potted
plant claiming a place in the sun
muttering harvest…


An essay on the meaning of meeting someone.

photo by Claudio Schwarz at Unsplash

I met my first Black person during my senior year in high school. There were no people of color in my town unless you counted itinerant workers and I don’t think we did. As I was not included in the class field trip to Jonesboro Arkansas from Port Washington Wisconsin because my hair was too long, and my politics too vocal, I went on my own. Our Greyhound bus pulled into Effingham Illinois in the dead of a December night. 1969. The driver encouraged us to get snacks and use the bathroom in a now or never sort of voice…

Will Schmit

Poet . New book Head Lines Poems & Provocations is now available wherever books are sold, upon request. Www.schmitbooks.com for music downloads

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