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24 Apr 2006

Frank Sunlight They Do Not Shrink From.

Written by sally @ 3:21 pm — Section: Uncategorized

I have mentioned before that Charlie Smith is my Favorite Poet, and that fate threw us together one semester at the University of Alabama and that I punched fate in the face by never even talking to the guy. I’d see him in the halls and immediately start studying my fingernails or digging in my purse for an imaginary something. And at his reading, I could not bring myself to attend the reception afterwards, where I might’ve stood there by the cheese cubes trying to say something about how important his poems are to me, how the clarity of them hits me right in the gut, how I return to them over and over again — and instead would’ve just ended up saying something like, “I like cheese.” I prefer to keep my heroes not just at arm’s length, but at river’s length.

Straight
— Charlie Smith

In all these old photographs sun
shines directly into every face;
it’s a rule and makes the past seem
brightly lit, a world exposed and
direct, shadows only in the back,
behind things; and each of them,
men and women once young who are
dead now, children risen from curls
into heavy labor and troubled sleep,
accept this effortlessly; their bodies
look like shields, their faces shine,
and their eyes, looking straight at you,
hold sunlight off like an army; even
pale loitering boys and girls without
charm, women already oppressed beyond
endurance, the big father sprouting
hair on his arms like brushed wire,
in frank sunlight they do not shrink
from, appear touched by a familiar
eternity they don’t dream will fail.

(from Heroin and Other Poems, Norton, 2000)

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