Jared Smith

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Artwork by Gene McCormick

The Cover of Wings

The cover on the book is never enough.

It is the cover, and poetry the counterpoint

that fills the spaces between the passion and pain…

the trembling vibration that shatters glass in opera halls

echoes dawn in the thunder of besieged cities and souls

the children learning death is the wings of which dreams are made


Scattered Memories of Those Forgotten

Maybe it would have been different if the graves

weren’t enclosed in a wrought iron fence still polished

like the day they were laid out a century ago, names

from ages past but looking carved just yesterday,

or if we hadn’t driven miles down a dirt road to be here

with no sign of people and the road but eight feet wide

and willows and branches up against the doors scratching

and it was getting on toward evening beneath low clouds,

or if there was any sign of  the town it came from once

or if the people buried there lived out their lives

without the government coming in three times and

taking everything away from them and closing factories,

and heck, this was just one of 200 to 300 graveyards

counted by the government along this strip of land,

but they’re not quite sure of  names, numbers, or families,

and boarding up the iron mines those men operated

and telling the survivors the sons and daughters to move on,

grab whatever scraps of money they were offered

without bargaining or trials or anything back in 1933,

just take what yer offered and consider yourself lucky

and maybe over the years come back and see the graves

after the TVA has moved on. But I don’t know, it’s

posted as a National Recreation Area now, this land

between the lakes where these dead lie buried,

and what’s that say?


Maybe it was the stillness that lay over the land

or something pulling me in, drawing me thin,

as I stood there looking, but graves do strange things

to the living in all kinds of ways, and I just stood there

a few moments and saw maybe 80 graves of women

by their names at least and miners and ore processers

and the keepers of what stood for sanity in the Depression,

and I remembered the worn faces and the molten iron

the heavy axes weathered by the hands of men in photos

back at the little modern building at the entrance to the

land between the lakes between yesterday and tomorrow

between two Appalachian rivers dammed by the TVA

for what’s been named a National Recreation Area

as it turned the lights on in America, and I wondered

what kind of light what kind of power can come of that

that you would want to light your way into the future.


And maybe it was that kind of thought made me nervous

or the mists floating over the graves made me nervous

and made me think of men looking down their gun sites

coming up behind me, but the other thing I saw there

scattered among those ornate and simple tombstones were

small white crosses you might make out of pop sickle sticks

just standing there scattered all around as well maybe a  hundred

all around scattered without a pattern over stones beside mounds

on top of them and over there by the far corners as well, and I

didn’t feel right about going in to see what they were about,

and so I didn’t get too close and got back in the car and drove

until I left that blasted ground and its lost lives and dreams,

and maybe those white crosses marked small bits of bone

found by archeologists and who knows what those bones were

or maybe they were tourists who got too curious or were dreams

or more terribly yet the scattered memories of those forgotten

scattered from the town folk themselves rising to fruition.

I’m only telling you because it’s off a side road, way back,

and the chances are you won’t come across it anytime soon at all.

It don’t mean much anyway, just another shadow in the night we know.


Jared Smith's 13th book of poetry, Shadows Within the Roaring Fork, will be released this summer by Flowstone Press.  His work has appeared in hundreds of journals in this country, Mexico, Canada, England, France, Germany, and China (in translation.)  He is Poetry Editor of Turtle Island Quarterly, and has served on the editorial boards of The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, The Pedestal Magazine, and Trail & Timberline, as well as on the boards of several arts and literary non-profits in New York, Illinois, and Colorado.  He lives in the foothills of The Rockies outside Boulder, Colorado.