Stephanie Clare Smith
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.
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
nostrils flare fist wide
sideways halfway white
blows up bigger there
to blind the view
stares through a round
a moon cut up
across the back
and gallop gone
to the edge
foul the way
All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb
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.