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FatherSmithFather Lawrence C. Smith


I. Allegretto

On my cheek still moist
is the feel of the kiss
you blew in farewell
next to the tears now dry
from not-crying too hard
my last, I pray, goodbye.
Such scenes are always coloured
as trains once were in tones
of leaving-the-station-in-Paris-
and-sepia, or Lindy
or Bogey in love with flight
yet baby and lady are lost
Lucky left Louis for Orly
whose saintly king entered
glory from near where Rick
broke rules and hearts and something
more As Time Goes By.

Here as you and I part,
at the jazz age of nine-
and-twenty, a crash occurs
when all that was trustworthy
falls. ‘tho’ the suicidal
urge by then was conquered
long ago, death yet seems
a proper response, more real
somehow, reasonable after
all…Those champagne bubbles
bursting escaped being
drunk, instead finding
an airy universe unknown
to bottles, glass, or stomach
gas. Who’s Dom Perignon
compared to the stratosphere,
adolescence unappreciated
to self-possession?

There is a half-empty-porch-
swing era when the lemonade
is sold and sipped, first
at our cardboard stand last
night for a quarter a shot
and then hand-in-hand
this moonlit noon with your aunt
spinstering behind the parlor
drapes and then creaking
dryly, unoiled, unswung,
unsat upon thirsting
the unmoist farewell
you felt and unwet goodbye
I’ll give tomorrow once
our each-other dreams pass.

It is over but what it
was neither tongue nor lips
nor eyes nor the bitter fruit
of time-sweetened joy
nor all together can say.

Maybe the advantage
of never needing glasses
appeals equally to those
graced with 20/20
vision and the blind. Faith
in the blessings of love
fails any with contending hopes
based on death-parting wed to
passion. Meals-for-one,
twin beds, and correctly squeezed
toothpaste await just-friends
who couldn’t get through
the pain of feeling nothing
for years after having months
of feeling nothing but
good. Mostly…more or less…
Perhaps more less than more.

Ambiguity is
the price of two-made-one.
Clever coupon clippers
realize this when asked: When
is half-off better than
twoferone? and How do you
know which one is free?
Sell me the free one, please,
my freedom, sell the free
one my freedom, sell me
the free one, sell me my freedom
free, sell me free, sell me
free freedom, sell me, my
freedom, free. Please! In other words,
she said, let’s be just-friends.
And then the train, Paris, and
colour receded. The front porch
sat on the swing alone
with all gone black or blind,
it didn’t matter which.
Everything was the price
I paid…Don’t worry – she did, too.

Suddenly, we both were free,
whatever that means,
to be almost like certain
electrons, ‘tho’ unlike
in having charges neither
negative nor neutral.
The instant of love thrums
eternal and nonexistent.
Her freckled ponytail or his –
what do girls see in boys,
anyway? -- isn’t really
love unless grey hair
beneath a gravestone results.

We must confess a lack
of abdominal leaping
or/and facial crimson
at the thought/sight of her/him.
This fact absent freewill
desire toward union of
boring bodies and dull souls
constitutes a pleasant
naught comprised of eye
contact, fantasy, impure
thoughts, and a brief hormonal
meeting of minds. Of such
is romance, not permanence,
made. Electrons end up
with more to show for their trouble.

This is not bad. In the same
way ancient slash-and-burn
horticulturists wreaked havoc
on the land for greater
sustenance, unluckies
in love can-should-might reap
a better harvest once
the smoke clears and coughing
stops. The eyes are watering,
not crying (Tears are too
saline for healthy crops.
Salt on the fields renders
them infertile for decades,
often a time of bitter
weeping, whose residue
is yet more acidic,
less yielding of tender roots’
or slender shoots’ yearning
at springtime. The lowest
pH is sprung from vicious
floods of not-crying too hard.),
putting out the fires of love.

Something eventually grows
in its place, in the place
of ravaged heart lands
where tempest and conflagration
have consumed the holocausts
of unoffered bodies-and-souls
who have said Yes! when asked,
Will you unmarry me, please?
and in such a state remain
always, giving as the angels
in heaven, who need not die
to receive so marvelous
a gift as each-others given
can be. Lilies of the valley
of the shadow of death
(that’s you and I, my love)
grow to know angelic
love before and after dying
in love from seed to scrapbook
petals yellowed and pressed
next to the photographs
in fading colour badly lit.

In English there is no way
of knowing whether you
is someone or a throng.
Love’s true passion, a bit like
the diamond’s pride, works best where
reflections innumerable
are possible. A someone
or a throng never can be
you until we meet, but we
always must be plural
else senselessness is risked.
If nothing more love makes sense
happen, a fact any hand-
in-hand caressing hair
gone-and-greying can’t help
but tell everyone willing,
‘tho’ constrained, to listen.
The decision to desire
exudes a certain aroma,
an aura, and affect whose delight
is known and knowing affection,
where feeling feels best
when perfectly still.

Funny how closely bound’s the bond
between indifference and
man’s truest love(s). I love
you! and I love you! sound but don’t
mean the same. You and you
are one and many. You’ll feel
less by getting more of me
because you are more than
you and you will need to share –
discovering that grass gone
to seed yields more grass,
more seed, and just plain more.
Man and woman’s greatest love
is given not between her
and him, but for the children.

Am I are You the people
that our youths forbade our grown-up
selves to be, the kind of people
that we’d never let our dreams dream
of coming true?

II. Scherzo & Trio: Presto-Moderato-Presto

My heart’s in the right place
but my foot’s in my mouth
and my hand’s in the cookie
jar and my eyes are bigger
than my stomach and my
head’s shoved up where the sun
don’t ever come up…but
my shoe’s got a real nice shine.

I’m long of wind and short
of sight and the middle
of the road is where I like
driving best. It’s best to stay
out of my way, my only problem
being I lost my way
far ago and ‘long the way.
Progress has gotten me…nowhere.

As I’ve shed my youth I’ve rocked
fewer boats and those less
often, more gently. You’ll get
no apologies from this
aging fogey, whose foolish
past has taught him ‘bout how
easily frequent it is
that seasick vessels capsize.

Eavesdropping while you talk
in your sleep, I wonder
how we manage a planet
with dreamers as dull as
we getting in the future’s
way, getting everybody lost
in deer-light glare right before

Monday makes road pizza of Sunday.
We’ll never go hungry
going this way going
nowhere, except the gnawing
hunger growing for we know
not what nor what we do
and, boy, when they find out
we did it we’re going to get it –
even if we don’t know what when we do.

Your average cannibal
starts with leftovers, his own
or his fathers’ words, it’s hard
saying whose they might be.
Once the appetizers
are consumed, or the cupboard
bare, entrees are served – they
eat their young, you know.

It’s like a snake, who can’t
get a foot in his mouth,
at least not his own, but
whose tail fits just fine, with
worse results: Some might laugh
while others are prone to tears,
yet all have been taught not to
talk with their mouths full of themselves.

Gagging is not uncommon.


All the year ought to be
autumn, when blue has found its voice
somewhere between F and middle-C
in D-minor or A-flat major.
The autumnal bliss missed by most
of the year years uncounted
is a green with room for gold
without avarice or haste,
it sighs in umbers beneath
the Iowa combines and atop
New England chestnuts, silent
while silencing the lake house
and County Fair and the children
siloed in K through post-grad.

Who remembers a fall, except
Adam and Eve, not book-ended
by summers (whose boredoms
somehow always convince late May
of their breathless abandon
to mirth) and winters (who swear
that Thanksgiving was fully
a week last year and Christmas
truly a matter of angelic
and human good will) treading
a pleasant bridge uniting
the warmth of memory with
unbroken consolation and promise?

This is both a question
and a sentence. A question of
how the heart of man redeemed
finds himself torn asunder
season by season. Each vernal
Passion is a pledge reborn
where life is sure and sweet.
Here the autumn is more alive,
having passed the spring and solstice
frenzies, and yet uncertain
when the morrow will bear a wind,
not to embolden the Twelve, but
bringing the twelve-month sentence
to its end. This the hybrid
time, the Cross which links cold death
to life and brings all Life to death.
This the Tree ever in bloom,
never a leaf to shed.

There is a cradle in autumn
sprung from unlikely conception
during new year’s snows. A seed
survives its sojourn in frozen
rocky ground, the inconstance
of April, and blistering droughts
after immoderate showers.
Come the change of key from hot
to A-flat, a seed discovers
itself no more a seed, but in
his weathered hand he finds a gift
for giving to mother. Waving
in the breeze the tiny fingers
open and gently let fall,
and be forgotten, tomorrow.

Whether tomorrow will fill
a fireplace, pencil box, or
old-growth forest, not even
Tomorrow knows. Tomorrow
perhaps more than any time
has found an autumn voice.
She sings a lullaby to cares
and lets the dreamer and his
dreams be. She is a reckoning
of what’s gone before without
spoiling the fun of what’s to come.
She, not I nor you nor we,
She holds the key (no, not
D-minor nor A-flat major)
that changes neither the song
nor tune nor any voice. Where she
holds sway look within and see
her power over the minstrel.


My heart is in my mouth
and on my sleeve and in my boots
and near to heart and on my mind.
I wouldn’t mind a helping
hand or an extra helping of a leg
up to get me to get a hold
of this self of mine. Mother
always told me, You’ll never
amount to anything, Humpty!

Mother really knew what was
best for me, wanting only
the best for me, seeing the best
in me, seeing to it – if worse
came to worse – I got better,
best, and bested by my life’s
it-isn’t-so-bads, once-you-got-
used-to-its, saying, Life goes on,
then on and on some more,
‘til now it seems a fact of life.

Mother didn’t done told me
about those facts of life. She left
that to Dad, old dear that
she thought he was. He was
no fool, ‘tho’, ‘tho’ he raised one,
and it wasn’t long before
the facts were in dispute.
Dad didn’t like to argue,
so he always let me win,
resulting in the convictions
sown dear-ol’-Dadded in my heart.
This explains a lot about me.

My heart’s not really in it,
but I’ve got heart, a big one,
so being half-hearted goes
anything goes a whole long
all the running away with me.
When it comes right to it, ‘tho’,
that heart in my mouth gets out,
leaving me mostly mouth. Boy,
oh boy, have I got a mouth –
Heads up! It’s the big one!

What with feet and hearts
and voices and egos and all
that filling my mouth, there’s
not much room in it for much
coming from it by way of wisdom.
Quality? Quantity?
Nothing that little diction
can’t confuse. It’s done wonders
for me. Tomorrow, I’m sure
you’ll agree, I’ll only get

gagging is not uncommon. Feel free!

III. Largo

Traffic signs the times of life
and times the life of man
throughout all time. The super
highway is this century’s
version of the headlong rush
from birth to pimples thence
to, I’m not middle-aged yet!

Let’s consider something
slower, more so than a mule
train or the gap between
November days and Christmas
Eve by reindeer sleigh or
footsore Moses Canaan-bound.

As progress marches on
a gridlock forms akin to
earth before it found its
roundness, ere the Pharaoh bowed
to Rome, or Troy was lost.
Things-being-what-they-are has
been our S.O.P. since

anyone has taken time
to hazard something new.
From here to there is such a
bother, whether here takes
aeons to get past or there
lasts less than one full day.

After crawling walking is
man’s slowest way to go
his here-to-there-ing. After
aging it’s the fastest
mode (perhaps the only one),
because it’s then that dreams
will come when bidden to and

solitude or warm hand
held are at the ready for
the task of making of
believing more than dreaming.
There’s where truth begins, so
here a walking-dream awakes…..

Her name was Sally. Once
she had a car, a credit
car she used to drive, but
now she walks – she lost her car
and credit in the same
and strange coincidence brought
on by buying, driving,

and consuming ev’rything
except a bargain when
it passed her by. She found it
useful to remember
this while trying to forget
her arches on the way

to work. She often had dark
visions of the Chosen People
walking through the desert on
a single pair of feet –
hers. Yesterday, however,
other thoughts conveyed to
her her mood, and it was good:

A pretty little girl
named Sally Sue once lived right
next to the Enchanted
Village right beside the Big
Blue Lake that’s filled with dreams
instead of fishes’ toilets.

Always there are townsfolk
at the shore of Big Blue Lake.
They walk, they fly and float,
and some just show up on the
beach from out of somewhere
else. The people all day long
will drink the dreams that make

the there there so appealing,
and they rarely stop to
miss the here they left to get
to there, although they love
the here that’s ever there when
here has gone a’there-ing.

There came to Sally Sue two
boys ‘til then she never
knew. The boys were twins but not
twin brothers. Sally was
confused, but not as much as
both their mothers who could
never tell her own from hern’t.

It was the dreams they drank,
delicious dreams that made what’s
real to seem not quite to
seem what first it thought it was.
These pleasant dreams more dreams
begot and dreamt ‘til nothing

seemed a dream but life was
but a dream – or so it seemed.
And Sally didn’t know
or couldn’t tell or wouldn’t
want or wish for any
things except new dreams to seem
to be or really be

or seem to really be, at
least a while. She drank more
Lake and things got better for
at least a while for her,
for Sally Sue, but not her
boys ‘cause they had never

been. That didn’t stop them, ‘tho’.
A thousand ends gave way
before ten-thousand starts who
mated and – you’ll need a
statistician if you want
to know the rest. Suffice
to say that ev’rybody

had a dream. Whole lives were
lived from ecstasy until
and for new ecstasies,
with ecstasy becoming
boring for the gods of
au courant. It wasn’t long

before the vogue became
to be just common. Thus was
yet another dream made
true…..well, more or less…..perhaps
more less than more… least
a while for her – and for her
nonexistent boys. Or

brothers. Or her husbands. Her
whatever they might be
or were or might have been if
they had ever been but
they had never been. You know
that didn’t stop them, ‘tho’.

Where it got them, all this not
and never stopping, no
one ever stopped to think and
ask. But faster found they
ways to go still faster than
the fastest didn’t-stop-
them-‘tho’ had yet discovered.

Funny things began to
happen where their dreams had brought
them on by buying, driving,
and consuming ev’rything
they saw and craved. They took
to dreaming of the days when

dreaming was the only
way to get from here to there –
except for walking. Since
their dreams came true they found they
didn’t have much else to
do. And that did stop them. Cold.
They looked around and said,

We’ve been here, done there, that was
last year’s fun. And here and
there and that had just one name:
Her name was Sally. Once
she had two sons but then she
made them into brothers,

sisters, mothers, daughters, friends –
yet never fathers. All
had done the here and there that
Sally took to dreaming
for the world and all the world
for all it knew knew not
that these two boys she never

knew she never knew ‘cause
they had never been at all.
That didn’t stop them, ‘tho’.
Or did it? There was someone
else reflected in their
Big Blue Eyes, the Big Blue Lake,

that Sally Sue was fond
of drinking from, had taken
to, was thinking of, where
dreaming wasn’t true, but no
one would let that begin
to stop the fun begun by
buying what their dreams of

life began while driving down
the middle of the age
where in the ditch beside it
sat a snake consuming
its own tail with lemonade,
Champagne, and brandy for

a quarter as a chaser.
Gagging is quite common,
gagging on the notion of
a field of grass beside
a Lake of Blue with somehow
green enjoying more than
Blue, more grass, more seed, and just

plain more than any dream
could hope to dream of being
true could dream of over-
coming what a youth forbade
his grown-up self to dream
of ever being or of

ever coming true. No
matter on which side the green
is greener water is
a sweeter dream than green dreams,
isn’t it? But green dreams
grass and seed and just plain more
and nothing seems to stop.

Her name was Sally once, yet
somehow there’s a key change
from her Blue-enchanted Lake.
Here there’s a colour of
a train-in-Paris-and-old-
sepia becoming

lost in flight and something more
As Time Goes By. Now here
her power o’er the minstrel
wanes and all her dreaming
fading into sleepless night.
No proof of dawn is borne
upon her heart nor his nor

his nor…..One is free but
one can never tell which one
nor whom is being told
or who is talking with his
mouth stuffed full with heart and
foot and ev’rything but sense.

A sky of night descends
to wake her walking, end her
dreaming, dry the Big Blue
Lake now filled with tears, the life
that was a dream consumed
in pH low enough that
dreams can rest and fish can

find a toilet there again.
What didn’t stop them now
has stopped and maybe Sally
can get on with life. A
boy she never knew awakes
to what he knows not…..What?


IV. Maestoso Cantabile

Electronic dawn rose
ineffectually, the sound
of muted strings playing
Debussy my alarm clock’s
attempt at calling day
from night. A better effort
was mounted in the pungence
filling Mr. Coffee’s stomach
and my startled nostrils.
Awakened now my thirsting
for and quenching by
French Brandy Alexander.
Perhaps consciousness
will follow suit before noon.

My self was once a dream
where living meant the vanity
of trying to remember how
I flew so high or where
was hidden my immensely
valuable whatever-it-was
or the way away from
here-that-isn’t-there and filled
with nasty idlings claiming
We know you, and We’re your friends,
and begging in a pleasant yet
disturbing tone Let us come out
and play, pleeeeeassse…..
And so I made the whole world
my imaginary pal, a girl,
at need, who’s capable of cooing
motherly or scolding wifishly.
But then at times a boy with whom
this boy will be a boy who
gottadoes what men go ‘round
hasgottadoing. Buddies didn’t seem
to mind when I began to tell ‘em
how I really felt when they said How
are you, but never really cared
or knew. It served ‘em right
up the wall to hear their questions
sentenced to answers of
excessive detail and length.
Thus I punish alternate realities
whose crime is being dull and boring
and much too much like me. I cut
a figure of pathetic omni-potence.

My River Styx was coloured
like a gentle Guatemalan roast
(so much for French Brandy Alexander).
We sipped quarter shots
of forgetfulness (a few with
sugar, none with cream) and all had
money for the passage on the ferry
fro and there, here to forth
a thousand times ten-thousand times.

Ol’ Charon isn’t such a bad guy
once he’s had his morning brew –
of course it helps to hit him on
the head, then throw him in his hold,
pretending not to hear his howls
there (Greek myths use simply frightful
language when they’re irked). Please just go
back to sleep ‘til row, row
rolling on the River brings you down
to better places where a self
can be a dream again…..forever.
‘til nothing seems a dream but life
is but a dream yet being true.


Except the world shan’t wait
for dreamers to recover,
before noon or after. Earth
goes on then on and on some more,
ignoring the fact that life
remains largely unconscious
of this fact. It is the rare
species who manages
any kind of self-awareness
prior to breakfast.

She seemed, I told her several
times many times, not to be
much of a morning person
‘til ‘round midnight and ere dawn.

When I took the time to take
him out, I got more trouble
than worth – he was a lot of fun, ‘tho’,
when I went out and he stayed home.

Time and time and after time
again, together since time out
of mind, we drove one another
out of our minds and out of
each other’s minds and each other’s
lives and nightlife and time of day.
We didn’t give much and what
we gave we didn’t have:
Time or time together
or time for each other NOW.

When did love become unloved
and being friends so lonely?

Were we ever lovers, ever friends,
if we aren’t ever-lovers, ever-friends?

Bring back Paris and November,
send the station to the train;
we still can’t change our changing
nor find a way to change the way
we changed. Neither Paris nor
November will visit us again.


We were crazy to be in love,
but solitary sanity
is nothing rational minds
desire nor cultivate.
To dream of waking while
asleep defeats the purpose;
to sleep through dreams is the mark
of lives in utter defeat.
Or is it merely typical?

The richest time of life
is lived in the split second
before the clock radio
sings or the bell shrieks or sunlight
streams through the shades of unconsciousness
by way of quivering, stuttering,
whimpering eyelids unclosed.
It is then that dreams are sweetest
even though forgotten,
and any promise of the coming
day is but a shill, deceit
most foul giving lie to beauty
sleeping now no more. Once awake
all her glory is laid to rest.

And what of Love, my love,
our love? We’ve had the time
of dreaming, of fitful repose,
and now approaches a moment
where the fantasy of the pow’r
of love beneath the noontide
sun is placed – to thrive or shrivel?

How vampiric seems our shared
phantasm, this romance
blinding and binding ourselves.
Neither death nor reason
daunts our passion, but simply
seeing earth arise at morn
withers the hands we held
throughout the velvet night.

Somehow life has found a way
to survive exposure to and
immersion in quotidian
assaults: Toast and tempers
burn; the fib is on the lips
and the check is yet unsigned;
Monday gets in late and Friday
takes off early; I never
answer letters nor do you
ever return my calls.
And nights grow later and mornings
are always here too soon.
Somehow life survives, but what
of Love, my love, our love?


Coming back from dark dawn refuses
to give himself to night.
She is left bleak and lonely
as the early sun consumes
his rival stars. Morning dews,
the rapturous fog, a sweating
mist hint at passion not-
crying, vanquished, spent. The evening
is swallowed, condemning
her lover to bear alone
the wait brought on by day.

Each night life is full
of strangers. Strange stars
roaming a hemisphere
missing, omitted from
every chart. They wander,
not lost, but losing sight
of where, to whom to turn.
A pursuit of stasis
at the speed of light continues,
expanding out of here
into something not yet there.

Somehow they know they see
by light made quiet by desire.
Loud cravings weave veils both
have yearned, groaned, seduced.
The more they want the greater
grows the distance between
you and we and someone
knowing and seeing and having.

We doesn’t exist as you and I
have dreamed. Angels haven’t
bodies nor can stars abandon
night and walk beside us
in the day, by the coffee
asking Cream? Thank you, no.
We is a moment almost
lost, in need of rescue
by more than we can hope to
satisfy. Not every moment
merits salvation.


Today is such a time. Thoughts
walk past like people
on the street, little contact
and larger fear with comfort
never offered in ignorance
of intimacy. Instead noiselessness
torments with memories
of sepia and Golden Ages.
Despair is positive that no time
to be will be describable
in terms of precious metals.
Sic semper Homo sapiens sapiens.

And yet, perhaps…..No, certainly,
the dandelion convention
on the front lawn and Farmer Brown’s
ranks of corn at parade rest
know best – companionship
is not to be sought. It is thrust
upon those with roots that run
deep, stems that sway in supplication
to the sun, gone to seed in hope
put off and borne away
on winds ill and fair.

Strangers are the gift given
by a strange world who disbelieves
in Christmas, but lives generous
to a fault: Rare is the day
when there’s no exchange
between rootless ones who keep inns
and roomless ones who wander in.
They plead for much less, more of less,
because dearth makes bedfellows of all.

The mass of men lead lives unquiet
in their separation one from one,
leaving none. Where two or three
gather solitude can not
be kept out of their midst.

Celestial harmony
is the music of the spheres
sung by stars uncountable
in a chorus of piercing
beauty, whose lone desire is
to be a part of those apart.
Some here-and-there is singing
our duet, perhaps…..No, certainly.

Father Smith.

Author Notes: When was the last time you counted your chromosomes?

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About The Author
Father Lawrence C. Smith
About This Story
24 Mar, 2018
Read Time
22 mins
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