Each Sunday, I post a brief introduction to a collection of poetry I've been loving. I include one poem that I think really sings. No review. No need. If it's here, you'll know I recommend it. If you have one to recommend (yours or someone else's), send it along. I'll do my best to be here every Sunday.
Usually, I make the argument that a collection of poems is best served a piece at a time over several days or weeks. In the case of Clint Smith's Counting Descent, I have read it straight through more times than I can count. The poems in this collection accumulate, tightening and intensifying, peaking and relenting in perfect orchestration. It is no easy book. It is not pretty. It does not mince words. It is full of pain and anger and sadness. Today, too, is full of pain and anger and sadness. So, today, Counting Descent. Originally, I planned to give you "For the Boys Who Never Learned How to Swim." I had it all typed out even. But it hurt too damn much. There's hurt enough already here. Instead, I'll give you one that sings the hurt but still glitters with hope. The thing is: there's not one poem in this collection that doesn't sing. If you haven't been reading Clint Smith, you should be.
what the cathedral said to the black boy
come inside child
it's okay to want to be held
ain't we all just trying to be
some type of sanctuary for someone?
for every year we are not destroyed
do they not remind us what a miracle
it is to have lasted this long?
amid this plunder
amid all this wreckage
take a breath and call it prayer
take a step and call it living
what that ocean tell you child?
that they're frightened of you?
they fear you because they ain't
ready for your type of holy
close your eyes
those stained glass shadows
all we got is what we name ourselves
otherwise I am just a room
you are just a body
& we know how wrong that is
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