The Poetry Section: J.D. Smith

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

The Poetry Section

Today, a new poem from J.D. Smith.

The Vikings

They were more than welcome at first.
Anything to break the monotony
of days gone over to pastel shades.
The pirates had long since grown tiresome,
joining the landscape
like the starlings before them.
The clowns, of course, were passé
from the moment that first great shoe
kicked out of the tiny car.
The drag queens turned out to be
a subset of the clowns.

The Vikings cleared our low bar without trying.
The large woman at the opera
offered to trade headgear,
and we came to rethink fish at breakfast.
There are still thriving outlets
of Herring Hutâ„¢.

Yet what the Vikings wrought in funerary services
could only be called a revolution.
The land saved by launching the deceased on flaming boats
permitted an expansion of cropland
and the creation of several parks.

So what if casks turned up
ruptured, as if struck by swords,
or a few more girls than usual
had round bellies for a while?
On net, we were well ahead,
inhabiting a Frazetta poster come to life.

Things changed only when the Vikings
met up with the biker gangs,
each camp like the fish
that sees itself in a mirror and strikes.
The earth shook in those days-
if not for long.
A battle-axe wielded even by a berserker
proved no match for a twelve-gauge
or a Glock.

Such Vikings as survived
traded their skins for denims and patches.
After sailing and rowing, it was child’s play to ride.
A leading scholar of management science
had just begun research on this leveraging of synergies
when he was found along three stretches of highway.

The days have gone over to a shade of gray
as if a great wolf had swallowed the sun.
Tolls are collected for crossing territory,
and for breathing.
Between raids, we wait for the lumberjacks to save us.
Perhaps the actuaries.

J.D. Smith was awarded a 2001 Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His two collections of poems are The Hypothetical Landscape (Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series, 1999) and Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections, 2005). He edited Northern Music: Poems about and Inspired by Glenn Gould (John Gordon Burke, 2001) and is the author of a children’s book, The Best Mariachi in the World (Raven Tree Press, 2008).

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