Accueil> Marcus Smith, from SEZ

Marcus Smith, from SEZ



I Still Love The Sound

The swoosh of a rocket fas­ter than space.
How the dis­tance eva­po­rates…
My mes­sage to you.


Cash machine says no.
People behind me jab –
The money arrives with a smile.
I am retur­ning –

Cash machine says no.
These num­bers are cor­rect.
Cash machine says call num­ber.

Cash machine emp­ty.
Wallet emp­ty.
Banks, coun­tries emp­ty.
How soon is when ?



White, grey, black :
The lights are chan­ging.
Take me there, cab dri­ver
Because it’s a dif­ferent way.
Because I’ve been taking the same way –
Because I haven’t gone this way.
Because how would I know if it was the way ?
Because I can go back to the same way.
Because I don’t mind beco­ming the diver­sion.



Nobody in the super­mar­ket
And it was 24/​7.
Nobody in the offices
And the mes­sages said soon.
No one in the tanks
And it was time to fire.
No one in one store
And it was time to buy.



I love them clo­sed,
Lit up like an aqua­rium,
Schools of fish flit­ting,
Colours spread out in rain­bows,
Fishermen cas­ting nets
O the stores, the soul.  



A tiny entry.
Flats above.
Chiropractor below.
He sleeps in a chair
Each time I go
A bag­gy lef­to­ver face,
Twisted put­ty slou­ching
And dres­sed as twee­dy
As an old gent­le­man.
Today he mumbles hal­lo
Slow and fading
As that shrin­king bird
In the cage in Cairo.
He’s gone tomor­row.
I don’t notice.



Hello, doc­tor,


No, I’m not. Yes, I am.
(Bare branches lash against the win­dow,
Whipping the glass case pri­so­ner.)



Sometimes. Higher and lower.
(The branches coming to life,
Starting to bud and bloom.
Pink against a grey sky.)



Right there. I’m awake at night.
(High twit­te­ring of the orioles
In the vast green oak tree
And a plane sil­ver as the sun.)



What if I don’t ? I can.
(Hard leaves fall onto fro­zen ground.)
My time’s over. Someone else wai­ting.



My but­cher

On his bike deli­ve­ring
A wave to me and mor­ning.
Both of us here. Still here.
The phar­ma­cist can read it,
Hurried pin­ched let­ters –
A code he can deci­pher
In the face of wor­ry.
A memo­ry of eve­ry time
He trans­lates love.


Menus, menus,
New tastes from the sor­ce­rers.
Interiors by Anno Mirabilis.
Waiters who are as gra­cious
As beau­ti­ful ser­vants for a god.


A street­clea­ner,
Sky uni­form, sky glasses. Sky eyes ?
See him floa­ting into the sky
And disap­pea­ring blue on blue.
He’s tethe­red ¬–
A ted­dy bear tied to the handle.


Sleeping on the side­walk.
Sifting through the trash.
A man on four legs
Sniffing and tug­ging at my legs.
I have a dog at home.
Standing upright, trying to walk.

(Funny, I was fee­ling hap­py today.)

Dragon School

Out the large gothic double doors,
Down dir­ty red medie­val steps
Onto swoosh-honk-honk-“Excuse me,”
“Excuse me”-some-of-them-smiling,
Most dod­ging you-in-the-way streets.

You are the tail of the Dragon tea­cher
And not yet gro­wing your scales,
And the fled­ging dra­gon can’t fly,
Caution clut­ching hea­vy hands,
Heads fixed as guards on parade.
A boy and a girl at the back lau­ghing,
Looking up at the neglec­ted sky.
Here’s the street lea­ding
To the other street.
There’s a sign lea­ding to the sign.
No sign. Here’s the street.

The walk a museum of shops,
The shops today, the fami­liar arti­facts ¬–
The remains of a city, unear­thed.
I did one last year. Pompeii.

This street curves.
No rea­son it shouldn’t be straight.
The sur­veyor made a mis­take,
Made one on pur­pose.
Thank you, ele­gance.

As do the streets
The store has a sign
And I’m not lost
Asking the direc­tion
And not lis­te­ning
On the way to Hurry.

Are you sure, cut-through ?
Maybe the next one.
Stick to the straight ones.
A bet on hur­ry lost to lost.
Hurry up now, short cut :
Footfalls of dark­ness lau­ghing.
No one else. Stupid me.

The long way was shor­ter.
Destination, I didn’t mean to hur­ry you.

You read. In the head­lines.
I never know how long.

Maybe there’s a pas­sion.

To be on the street.
To find the quiet one there.
To sit down at the table out­side.
To order a cup.
To be part of the set­ting.
It’s been going on here
Since the set­ting.
When there’s time.


We were there next to it,
The robot eyes recor­ding
Every potho­led block
And stop to go.
We were there, we were
In the ver­sion until the next ver­sion.

        (Are we in the next ver­sion?)

When you dared not look back
It was me fol­lo­wing you into spring.
The people were bloo­ming.
We were still win­ter. Persephone.


Mouth of the street
Swallowing our last light
Trying to escape
In a car racing the other way  
Into dee­per dark­ness.
Taillights and fla­shing lights.
Red lips and red lights.



Text ? Call ? Where ?

My appoint­ments.
Their appoint­ments.
Clouds of abbre­via­tion.
I lost you in the menu.
I didn’t see your mes­sage.
I didn’t hear your call.
I’m lying. It’s the truth.

The num­ber doesn’t work –
Count the digits :
Number mis­sing a num­ber.
Catch the runa­way num­ber.
None of them open the lock.
Maybe if you were someone else.
Your neigh­bor with the blood­hound.


The Organizer
Ministers and Administers
Councils and Offices
The Square in the City
The City of the Organizers
The Country of the Councils
The Answers for the Questions
The Questions to the Answers
The Plaza with the Statues


Yes. No. I can’t hear you !
Maybe. Never. Of course.


The voice coming fas­ter,
Following me and the street
Turning when I’m tur­ning.
Louder, clo­ser, here.


My old number’s rin­ging
And when I ans­wer
The same voice is fol­lo­wing me.
Who’s that now ?
Not the right beep.
The ring sounds dif­ferent.
Don’t you know me ?
Don’t I know you ?
Don’t I know me ?


I’m going to save that one
In case I don’t need it.
It will be sto­red in air
And found when era­sing.
I will save the laugh­ter.
Maybe you’ll cry.
In here I can save it.
The memo­ry I had.


A maze


On a bus wat­ching me walk.
On the street cal­ling you
Waving from a win­dow –
In Holland Park during a tulip day
I see me kis­sing you
While I’m tying my shoe.
A clock­to­wer. A watch­to­wer.
The hours are wat­ching.
Where are the judges ?


Driving with fury of the Furies.
Walking with the speed
Of those heel-toe ath­letes
Late loo­king for the race.
I didn’t see you coming,
Waiting, wat­ching when
You turn and dive
Into the shop­ping bags.
On the bus, on the train.
In the taxi, in my chair.
At mee­ting. For the gree­ting.
On the trip. In their chair.


Watching me go by.
Blur on the bus.
See-through reflec­tion in win­dow.


Someone and mani­kins.
They look bet­ter than us.
Passing cars and I’m gone.


On the street. In a shop.
Walking to the cor­ri­dor.
Walking to them. Talking to them
Talking like me tal­king to me.
Looking for the address.
Finding the dress.
Thinking of you thin­king
Where you are now.
On the bench. In the sun.
On the grass. On your own.
Someone smi­led today.


Joy when
He kicks a ball into the sky.

Joy after
A ball enters a pic­ture of the sky.

(My phone’s dying.)



Seven sto­ries up
Just the struc­ture,
Open as a vie­wing deck,
A high dive for the brave
A ten-sto­ry pic­nic,
The wor­kers on lunch
With the short-slee­ved sun,
A tan­ned breeze drying their temples
Before walls and win­dows arrive.


And the scaf­fol­ders –


Climbing the rig­ging,
Clanging the joints.
The high wobble.
Watch out for them fal­ling

On you, on me.


Banging the pipes,
Banging the bra­ckets.
Clinging to masts, 
Sailing over chim­ney­pots.

Over me, over you.


The planes line up for the sky.
The sky open for flight.
Remember when we would disap­pear ?
Only the clouds would know.

At the ele­phant fac­to­ry


We’re making them again.
Not like before.
No tusks. No hun­ters
In theme parks. Resorts
Where they used to live.
Everyone loves them.
Except for the ship­ping.


At the fun­drai­ser


The fire put out, the smoke didn’t rise
High enough for us to see.
The ambu­lance arri­ved with a flat –
The police were too late to care.
I haven’t seen you very much at the par­ty.
They want me to give lots of money.
How much does that ques­tion cost ?
You will have to bor­row the ans­wer.
If the inter­est is too high,
We’ll call in the mili­tia.
The war was like a peace trea­ty :
Both sides agreed there were both sides.
Children were lau­ghing at the tra­pe­zoids.
I was too old to unders­tand the sub­text.
Under the tor­na­do is where I kept the words.
They are flying away to Mauritius.
Some bro­ken into pre­his­to­ric rants.
Some words mel­ting in the sun.
I’m loo­king back at my lost adjec­tives.
Can I bor­row one for the era ?
No, I have too many to spare
And you must name one iso­tope
Separating love from ura­nium.
And tell me the dif­fe­rence bet­ween
Now catas­trophe or if apo­ca­lypse.
I was dan­cing in the begin­ning of Act I.
In the second I clo­sed the cur­tains
And ope­ned the trap­door :
The audience disap­pears into the ending.
The bal­le­ri­nas escape through the sky­light.
On the roof they pirouette for the birds.
Without a cho­reo­gra­pher they didn’t fly.
I lear­ned it was more real on film.
Have you seen the movie about the script ?
No, it didn’t res­pect his­to­ry either.


Strange Bud


She’s naming a tree with small leaves,
A strange bud she knows,
How it tests the cli­mate, blooms and fades.
An old woman spin­ning in a wheel­chair
Under a half-green hint of exo­ti­ca.
The sky is grey, air cold as street cin­der.
The woman touches an ove­rhan­ging branch
As if remem­be­ring the Latin name.
I’m in a place where she used to shout
When racing cold sha­dows to the sun.


And Baby Henry scoo­ters by. “I was dead.
“I was dead like one. And after death…”


In the air­port a sil­ver-hai­red gent­le­man
Fixing the knot of his pais­ley cra­vat slow­ly,
Slowly sits in a han­ging, swin­ging chair…

Jumping from an ove­rhan­ging chest­nut
Into a bla­zing pile of crink­led leaves.
Sharp edges sti­cking into our swea­ters.
Burrs we pull out like a romp of mon­keys
Grooming each other in the African sun.

(I can’t find you.)

On train, on sta­tion
I couldn’t find you
And almost sat down
With someone else
I thought was you.
She said, “Oh.
I thought you were him.”

In hou­se­wares
I saw you going down.
You didn’t see me.
Slowly, I tur­ned around.

I was about to say,
About to say,
I know how it feels
Passing you by.

   (Was that you?)

Here in your net­work.
In my favo­rites.
In your mes­sages
A second after you send.
Here in a buzz, a beep,
A splash of our  liquid screens.
Here in our his­to­ry
Sent by the sky.

                    (My phone’s dead.)

Still bent over devices –
Fingers still fro­zen.
I’ve seen us before.
Lying like corpses
In a huge block of ice
Rescue wor­kers ham­mer.
We slow­ly are mel­ting.
I’ve lost all your mes­sages.

(Do we need tickets?)

We are now rea­dy,
Waiting for the jour­ney,
When will it start
Where will it go ?
Oh, we’re alrea­dy there.
Directions fol­lo­wing us.
In a room of fol­ding chairs
There are win­dows.


Présentation de l’auteur

Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith is a Cinnamon Press Book Awards fina­list and Plough Prize and Poetry on the Lake Prize win­ner. His work has appea­red in the UK and Europe in The Rialto, Ambit, PN Review, Acumen, Stand, The French Review and Poetry Salzburg ; in the US Prairie Schooner, South Carolina Review, Able Muse, The Classical Outlook and Salmagundi have publi­shed his work. The excerpt here from the manus­cript SEZ/​​everything speaks (Live Canon, London, 2014)… A Sequence of Texts finds kin­ship in Georges Perec’s An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Paris and fla­neurs from Baudelaire and John Foxx. 


Marcus Smith

Poèmes choi­sis

Autres lec­tures

The French Literary Review

Le numé­ro 18 de la revue bri­tan­nique (cepen­dant basée en France) The French Literary Review nous par­vient avec comme thème « Writing with a french connec­tion ». La revue est diri­gée par Barbara Dordi, elle-même [...]

Marcus Smith : New-York à gogo (extraits)

  Skyscraper,   You are the giant size of a bill­board And big­ger than the Giants’ sco­re­board. You are fun­house angles pain­ted on A monument’s cam­pai­gn facade Or real as a fun­house [...]