Rumblings, Poetry By Baxter Smith


The conquest of destiny, mankind enthroned,
the earth under the rule of his scepter,
emotions subdued, reason at his command.

This dream, the edge of outrageous thoughts,
a shadow flickering in the morning sun,
is gone, lost now in perspective.
Wars, plagues, famines, the relentless foes,
are known too wide, their truths too bright,
Midday, and we see too clearly.

“The Mountain is too far away,
too hard to find, too provocative.”
The prophet's visions are cast aside, left to fade,
replaced by dim shadows on trodden ground,
cloudy mansions in a vague sky,
moments in time intended for eternity,
or big dreams put in shallow holes.
“O Spirits! Listen to the call of hungry man.
On your altar the beast is sacrificed,
smell the sweet savor and be glad.
Bless us and we will call your name great!”

And the dreams go on, the alchemy of the soul
that still thirsts for the wine made from water,
but it is beyond dreams, and beyond reason,
as elusive as dust in a sunbeam.
Twilight will come and render this affectation an absurdity;
Let us drink while we have the time.


I was ready with the answers
but nobody asked the questions
so I asked them instead
this is the worst day of my life some said
others smiled with intellectual curiosity
most just ignored the whole thing
but one or two shot a question in return
and blew my answers to smithereens


I took a walk
in freshness
and beside an old brick wall
with a barred window
I slid in a splotch
of tobacco spit


The tomb is empty
last year's leaves scattered on the floor
rattled by a cold forlorn wind
don't look here where the rags lie abandoned
let the past partake of itself
leave it to the dead leaves and the wind
look away from here
lift your head to the horizon
where the leaves are young and green
and the flowers are blooming
listen to the birds, not the rattling wind
a new life is upon us
the butterflies are dancing
listen, forget the wind
listen and hear the angels sing


That's water, its not wine. We want wine.
The jug is full. Look, it overflows.
You can't pour wine in a jug full of water.
Pour the water out, then fill it with wine,
the empty jug is the one for wine.
But Jesus didn't have the time.
He transformed the water into wine.


They are gone, their glory broken and scattered,
body parts spread out as relics for ghouls,
for all of us, no longer art or symbol,
and with due respect, not a tease,
as is the dizzy pain of eternity.
They are simply preserved roses
on display in another world.


In the deep of night
the earths green disappears
the stars beckon
their sharp cold light
stabs the mind
and turns it to ice
it moves in lucid radiance
it is dazed by infinity
the pregnant earth is forgotten
it finds happiness there


We like the illusion
powdered sprayed fanned
diffused air-brushed illusion
Acropolis pose
angle by Rembrandt
lights by Vermeer
cash registers ringing for illusion
a mask on the mask
covering the cover
the cracked time worn cover
revealing the beauty?

“I was so miserable when that was made.”
“The picture shows a child
with innocent eyes. You look serene.”
“Oh, I practiced that pose.” you said.

When they smile at their resin-coated countenance
When the illusion brings happiness to their eyes
for that moment it is worth the compromise


The stone sparkles, blazes, lights the eyes
pulls the dazzled to its flame
its cold fire encircles and imprisons its victim

Trapped by a rock too valuable to drop

So it goes with things that glitter
objects as symbols of whatever
the fashion, the rage, the hoopla
the gasps of the multitudes
the glance of the arrogant

The deep dark of the forest at night
is broken here and there by shafts of silver light
apparitions appear, nymphs and wights
fairies dancing into and out of sight
the Moon and trees conspire for mortal delight

Romantic melodies temper the dramatic shades
of silk, lace and shapely skin in a soft mist
the blemishes are forgotten in the hardpacking of years
the persuasive dreams remain, the glitter and the smoke
or are simulated in empathetic memory
The sleeper wanders in the fog of his dreams

Dark splashes of leafy shadows on the sunlit ground
are quickened and tossed by windy illusion
A reflection of an unseen force gives life to a reflection
a metaphor animates it all: shadow on shadow
reflection on reflection, metaphor on metaphor.


Already encased in their tombs
cozy evenings of bland pleasure
the monotony of warm feet and cold hands
over ripened theories over explained
they wander like ghosts in a graveyard of dreams
haunting their own memories for life
for once they danced with joy, kissed with passion
burned in a raging fire
There are no sparks in a damp tomb
only a shroud of illusion
and sleep with dreams


We are wet sponges, saturated and fat
our soft grossness cushions us for the impact
we absorb the shock, the idea bounces away
the grotesque, the beautiful, the innocent, the profane
have no distinction for us, the are all the same

And yet righteousness can be manufactured
prudery in a bright slick modern package
moral indignation can sweep the land
Rude! Perverted! Indecent! can be heard again
Ugly words. They make the artist grin.


These things I have pursued,
lack luster, intermittently,
a falling down drunk trailing a whore
for the pleasures of the night,
a smooth shapely leg, a soft bulging breast,
large inviting lips, and eyes,
sparkling eyes that reflect the light.
And that is the problem with these things
these night things that I pursue,
they are only a reflection of the day.

She can be found in the daylight,
sometimes a silhouette before the sun,
or a shimmering radiance moving through the trees,
her naked voluptuous glory dimly seen,
a spray of laughter, a lovely voice
calling my name, enticing me with ancient words,
to go on the quest of her, to end this longing,
to be fulfilled, to learn what true desire is.

But there is perfume in the night,
and excitement in the streets,
expensive perfume and engaging people,
remarkable talented people cynical of the day,
and the whore is there and she looks easy,
she seems right in the blinding artificial light.
Flirting with me, brushing against me, intoxicating me.
Others I see going to her room, experiencing her delights,
but I am left standing alone on a dark street at night.

Why, the night is no easier than the day,
for me anyway, so why do I seek the reflection
when I could have the light?
The night always comes as does the day;
it is part of life and cannot be denied.
Should I settle for a sparkle in a whore’s eyes?
For its pursuit? And what is that sparkle?
Is she not there too, in the day and the night?
The night’s laughter says no, who cares anyway.
And in the day when she is there,
who remembers the night?


The road to it is still there,
winding through the oaks and pines,
still bordered by wild roses.
The skinny dipping pond
where hot girl bodies cooled themselves
and young males peeped through the foliage
remains unchanged, still beckons the spirit.
But then the road ends, abruptly, midway,
torn asunder by yellow metal monsters.
The garden is gone, uprooted, plowed under,
and the top of the hill, the focus,
where the house stood, and the cabin,
where we built bonfires and lay in the grass,
and watched the stars move past,
can no longer be recognized.
There are streets there with lights
and sidewalks and row upon row
of middle class abodes in all the finery
of the latest architectural fashion
that harkens back to an earlier age
of solid banker virtue
adorned with fancy flirtations.
I stood on the very top and looked
and there was nothing familiar.
The new owners ride by and stare
and wonder who this fool is
who is standing in the street
with this odd expression on his face.
Does he want to rob my house,
steal my children, rape and plunder,
this barbarian from another age,
looking for magic where there is none,
staring wildly at the trees,
our trees on our handsome lawns,
seeming to want to possess them?
The hill is the same hill;
that tree was bound to have been here
twenty years ago, before the magic was gone.
But I no longer know this place.
Look beyond, down the hill toward the pasture,
where we frolicked and sang,
where we danced naked in the moonlight
and toasted the oaks and the hemlocks
with our bottles of wine,
and renewed each season traditionally,
undulating bodies entwined in he tall grass.
Big trucks roar through now
in a man-made canyon,
four concrete lanes, median strip,
coast to coast non-stop luxury,
no longer a place, no pasture, no trees,
just a space to travel through,
without memory, without passion.

Each age begins with magic,
the fairies respond to the hope,
the adventure of a new beginning.
An idea takes flight
and the fairies accompany it.
But then the greedy, the power hungry
step in; they see their chance
and make the new age their own.
They shoot down the idea and stuff it
and pay homage to it,
a monument now, unrecognizable.
The fairies run and hide and wait
for the next age for their brief flight,
before the magic is killed again.

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