Claire Sylvester Smith: Self-Portrait on the Occasion of Settling Down & Country of One

Self-Portrait on the
Occasion of Settling Down

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As summer hits us making walls out of the spring
and fall, so clothing goes: I live life shirted. May

no promotion use up my good name, may
we remember ourselves lakely, (and near

swollen up with water hearts), as sad musicians,
and as products of such tropes. Let lecterns hail us

for our perfect glottal stops. I invoke Seneca
the Younger. I invoke Seneca the people

because one Roman isn’t nearly help enough. We down
and up and so go toward and far from earth,

and are rewarded, and are close now to our fates,
which feels like holding shells up to our ears

and hearing them say shush but disagreeing.
As driver with her passengers asleep. The statisticians

know at least when they know something but
not well enough to say it. Life, I consent. I marry

daily and cast Smiths upon the world: this corner
Smith, this carport Smith, and though old Catholics

underground may be ashamed of this my naming:
day Smith. As patriarch. As selfsame life. This lot, aloft.

Country of One

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The prefecture of my land is a room
            with dark walls in which a person sitting

may not think of other rooms. Scale becomes thus
            difficult to master, so my way of gauging

has but three counts: it’s not a lot
            of blood til you can hear it. Lakes are large

if humans drown in them. Lakes are medium
            if bodies are someday found. Autonomy

becomes mine own and watches me hang jeans
            from hooks; I wring out sections of regret

and so make pulp. I paddle when my paddle
            hits the air. And so this emirate knowledge

acts in orders of retreat: I don’t mind water cold
            and wet collecting on my skin: it humans me.

Therein rounds out this platform for some smaller
            patria. Outside, I hear the Sunday people

buy things, and I keep my seat in this inhospitable
            chair. To my state I’m confined, so I pass

time by praying name by name to all the now-
            dead horses I was once too young to ride.


ART: Paul Ferragut, Leo Katunaric, Stefanie Schneider

FICTION: Bridget Apfeld, Jennifer A. Howard, Laura Schadler

NONFICTION: Joy Katz, Shena McAuliffe, Kate Partridge, Rob Schlegel

POETRY: Dan Beachy-Quick, Carrie Fountain, Jules Gibbs, Alen Hamza, H. L. Hix, Anna Maria Hong, Krzysztof Jaworski, Thomas Kane, Eric Kocher, Jennifer MacKenzie, Andrew Nance, Paul Otremba, Kate Partridge, Beth Woodcome Platow, Catie Rosemurgy, Claire Sylvester Smith, Lesley Yalen

ET CETERA: Glenn Shaheen’s
“POET The Game”

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