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Stephanie Clare Smith

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the poet

Stephanie Clare Smith is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, whose forthcoming lyric memoir, Everywhere the Undrowned, will be published in spring 2024 by the University of North Carolina Press. Stephanie's poetry and essays have been published in various journals including Bellevue Literary Review and Xavier Review. She currently lives in North Carolina where she's a social worker and mediator for families in crisis.

the poems

Small

00:00 / 01:18
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            Sleep is my friend, I tell myself.

            I don’t believe myself. I need more friends.

            What I have is Joni Mitchell songs stuck


            in my head. I really don’t know love at all.

            I make shapes with my body

            under the covers as though I am falling


            from a plane in the sky – a fetus,

            a windmill, a steak knife. Which shape

            survives a long-distance drop?


            The Times said a fetus – survivors fall

            small. In the morning, I wake like a clock.

            A chopper’s overhead beating the air. But


            this is not Nam or Afghanistan. The radio reports cops

            up above. A man dumped a woman out

            of his truck onto the avenue that feeds


            the heart of the city. Or else she jumped to escape

            the not-Nam/Afghanistan war in that truck. He fled

            on foot when the chopper hovered over. All day


            he’s at large like a storm in the sky. All day

            she’s out cold in a hospital wing. I feel all

            small; how she jumped or was dumped


            in the shape of log

            that rolled across the road

            that feeds the heart of the city.

When a Horse
Smells the End is Near

00:00 / 00:28
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                                    nostrils flare fist wide

                                    eyes shoot

                                    sideways halfway white

                                    a bad

                                    blows up bigger there

                                    nothing left

                                    to blind the view

                                    a storm

                                    stares through a round

                                    black sky

                                    a moon cut up

                                    a crack

                                    across the back

                                    of night

                                    and gallop gone

                                    to the edge

                                    foul the way

                                    it’s over

Whereabouts

00:00 / 01:14
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I dream I’ve gone missing. Wake up still here in this adopted state, out of place, nothing new. I throw back the comforter, count ten friends from home, lost or gone. Mostly gone. Mostly dope.


They follow me to the sink like prayers. I cup my hands underwater. Wash my face, dress up my past, miss ten laughs. I drive to work, clip on my name. Be here for now.


If I didn’t stay, if I’d kept on driving, someone here would call the cops, at least by Thursday. But it’s not a crime to just get gone. All I’d take with me is mine, low-key in my little car.


I’d drive to other towns, all gone grey. Adopt every state. Take on new names. Hope, Mercy, maybe Shame. Maybe Eleven. The ten gone missing ride along with me and sing our songs.


I stay put for now, feed feral cats, work overtime, eat out on Fridays. My little not-disappearing acts.

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb

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