“Skeletal” by Slater Smith

                                             Superfluous as vultures who arrive to find

                                             a carcass already stripped clean, and the bones

                                             now cracking in the cold air, the sun shines

                                             on barren roads. Postmen meander like lost dogs

                                             from home to home. Packages pile up

                                             with the winter snow, peppering the streets

                                             which lay barren sans a few broken cars. At dawn,

                                             children make their daily trek down to the sidewalk

                                             where not even a wave means hello.

                                             Another day falls behind into the darkness.

                                             The streets awake in the egg yolk glow

                                             of the sun, alone, frozen, exposed.


“The Jays”

I heard the jays before I saw them this morning, their dawn

crescendo richochetting between branches like rugged,

coil-shelled fruit. Above them, the sun rising,

peeking out bashful, each just sliding forward,

as if darkness could actually be taken slowly.


Meanwhile, the jays cut through the depreciating gloom,

chrysanthemum yellow bleeding from each incision and soon

the blackness, illumined. Shy sun: as if you had always

planned to arrive on time every morning. You just


forgot. That’s all. How the jays gave way to their bodies’

stern imperatives, at least most of them, save the few

who ignored the accumulating weight, the muscles

tightening like ropes stretched the distance

between two cliffs above a perilous fall, and flew on. 


“In the Early Spring”

After the worst of the winter had melted, bled slowly through the dark,

damp pavement, we walked outside into the still-sharp air, the wind

like a rough leather mane whipping against our faces, pleading, not only for our recognition, but also for our surrender, as if it made any difference

whether we chose to submit, to remove our fur-lined hoods and expose

our eyes to the cold. The wind lashed either way. Before us, stilted frames sat swamped in fresh sludge and the city beyond rose incrementally from the wide, sloped river bed, like a stairway of slowly unwilting petals, each step closer to the sun, each less grey than the one before. We huddled like mimosa leaves touched indefinitely, your head tilted upon the crux of my shoulder as your fingers danced methodically, outlining words and shapes in my palm – spiral flowers, blooming violas, the radial sun rising at last from a bed of unkempt snow. 


Biographical Note: Slater Smith is a senior at Principia College in Elsah, IL where he is editor-in-chief of the college’s literary magazine, Mistake House. He majors in English and minors in Mass Communications. His work has appeared in Green Blotter, The Eunoia Review and The Coachella Review.