Posted on Mar 31, 2008

Jordan Smith

Works by Jordan Smith, professor of English, have been published in several poetry journals. Included in Western Humanities Review (Winter 2008) are “The Abstract Expressionist Has a Vision of Graves’ White Goddess, 1954”; “Yes, Wagner, Yes, Again”; “Egypt”; and “Tosca in Mexico.” Smartish Pace includes “How I Failed Him” and “For His Biographer.”

The pieces in Two Review are “Nantucket Reds,” “Class Analysis” and “Listening to Lew Welch Read ‘Twelve Hermit Poems.’” And The Yale Review has published “Herbal.”

Smoth is the author of five collections of poetry and a chapbook, Three Grange Halls, which was a winner of the Swan Scythe Press award. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.Here’s a sampling of his work:

“Egypt,” by Jordan Smith

Western Humanities Review (Winter 2008).

That’s the town’s name, like Ovid, Mycenae,

Sodom, even—that’s what happens when the auto-

Didacts settle the place, sacred texts in hand, and barely

A thought to what’s under foot, these glacial fieldstones,

Say, tumbled like fallen obelisks, glyphs scratched

Down their faces, that he’s gathering in the wheelbarrow

For the garden wall, a folly, pure symbol, but what

Might last as long? The Greek Revival house he bought

In the 60’s, gutted out and replastered, everything done

The old way, or as much as the building code allowed,

After the divorce, after he left teaching to set up

As a craftsman, the lathe and chisels in the old barn

A woodstove warmed, after the classes in meditation

And sacred movement—all these afters, and never

A glimmer of might come next. It’s all hills here,

Not much sun gets through so late in autumn,

Beyond the shop and fallow orchard, although the little

Mansions are rising there now, and the mall traffic,

And there is something dispiriting about the turner’s

Work, all that whittling away, the pile of chips for the fire,

In the service of what?—form, he thinks, the shape

The wood was meant to take, but how often has he sanded,

Patched and painted, finally replaced the fluted porch

Pillars? He has a pair of rough work gloves, a checked

Wool shirt. He looks, he thinks, like any local, before

Local meant nothing lasting, and he has decided

On a monument that hardly anyone will notice, so

Anonymous that when it falls, it will still show the maker’s

Hand, the cold and implacable grinding of stone on stone

The earth sets off by simply turning, turning until

Nothing is left except what’s never enough.