Sarah Elaine Smith



The song needed an empty place to begin
and that is how it came to find me.

It had been looking since WWII.
It was not easily impressed.

It liked me because I agreed with it.
The French are not really that impressive,

just capable of flawless execution
and conceptual tact, and everywhere
the reminder that people have been dying

while stopping occasionally to invent the macaron
or paint a dish of lentils. Well, I don’t see
the heroism in that. I would rather
put on some sweatpants, 

buy some new socks and a slushie.
Maybe come over to your place
and teach you a thing or two about kissing.

Watching the highrises go up all over the place
like rearing cobras I become more allergic
to what is nice. 

I watch my neighbors sleep with the lights on
and the curtains open. Yesterday one of them
placed the skull of a cat in the boundary shrub

just so. It is pointed at my bedroom window.

What is not empty cannot sing. Let me show.
When I shove my fingers down your throat
you can try but you are dumb.


SARAH ELAINE SMITH is the author of I Live in a Hut, winner of Cleveland State University’s 2011 First Book Prize. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at UT-Austin and an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in Fence, jubilat, Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere.


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