Live Ink

When I was seventeen, lean, and nothing,
you were nothing I’d ever seen.
All I knew of you then, I’d read
on a book cover’s shrunken timeline: The Poet
under the gun, driven left and right, worn
from the shrill, small press, betrayed by his sharp
poems: vivid... uneven... imprecise.
Well over a decade’s passed since your work
put my white hand writing. Shall I now strive
to rush this unsure business down
on paper? Shall I risk leaving it
on soaked tables where it might be found?
Set down this: Living or dead, no one I’ve known
means more to me than all you then did.

_ The poem, including the title, is an anagram of the body
and title of Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

Mike Smith | Mudlark No. 30
Contents | Pound