Charlie Smith
At the Hour of Our Birth

This slaughterhouse, this Versailles—how easy

to make claims, as another man, in another time,

dismembers his mother, in homage, in brilliance,

in stupefaction as rich as the cheesy mutual anguish

of his birth hour: the dumb avidity, the breath

like cold liquid fire poured down his throat, the first

breath containing all of life, each breath after only

a repetition, a reprise: he stuffs her hands in his pockets,

steps back, sways—it is night, stardust: "Take your hands off me,"

he says, laughs, catches a glimpse of his face in the window

and stares: Whose blood, whose pure excellence exhibited here,

what face is this that will know everything, see clearly?

Found In Volume , No. 1993
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Charlie Smith
About the Author

Charlie Smith’s most recent book is Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2014). His new novel, Ginny Gall, is forthcoming in 2015.