J. Eric Smith is a Low Country South Carolina native who has made his home in New York’s Capital Region since 1993. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, a long-time Metroland music critic and former host of Time Warner Cable’s “Sounding Board.” Since 2002, he has been Director of the Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer in Troy.

POEMS

 

 

 

SLOW MOTION SLEEP

We dreamed of weeks well spent in but a passing hour
as the clock’s hands jellied, and our exhalations congealed.
The inestimable evening stretched out far before us,
its terminus and interim loci cleverly, completely concealed.

Shapeless like punctured ctenophores, we drifted, basking
in those warm estuaries of our long Precambrian dawn.
As parsecs collapsed into points of radium on watch dials,
we woke, briefly, looked cross the bed, and then slept on.

 

TREPANG

Don’t forget to bring old Pak Suhud
his sea cucumbers and sandalwood
in resinous cones and in spicy soups,
with complementary hand-peeled drupes.

The bicho do mar should be well cured,
their curative powers are then assured
by smoking them in the sandalwood,
or so says crafty old Pak Suhud.

 

CODEX

Aethelwulf wrote
on the skin of a goat:
“cecidit corona capitis
nostri; vae nobis,
quia peccavimus,”
dipping the hollowed quill of a goose
in iron gall ink and thick
gum arabic.

Candle wax fell
in the monastic cell
as the parchment was laid out and dried;
the new Jeremiad
was illuminated
with figures Aethelwulf created
during dark ergot dreams
of profane things.