Two Poems

By Walter Smelt III


I think sometimes my father might have liked
to be called like Abraham, to sacrifice
us to something higher, to be
both blessed and freed . . . only sometimes,
you understand, on certain days in certain moods
when we fought our brother or turned our backs—
at such times, I think, my father poising the knife
above me and glimpsing the substitutive ram
caught in a thicket by its horns, struggling, stuck,
might have pretended for a moment not to see.


“Wha’ Izzat?”

My nephew, walking unsteadily as if
at sea, points at this and that, asking
for each name Adam left

over: at the puddle’s sick slick of rainbow,
the sewer grate’s thirsty grin, the slurp
and suck at the end of a bath we gave him

with no-tears conditioner. For what
are we readying you? I guess for now
the soakings in Florida are almost

predictable, so during the afternoon deluge
we make it in to our air-conditioned
island, down for a nap. You’ll wake

to things whose names we didn’t know.

Walter Smelt III has had his poems published in Colorado Review, Redivider, SubtropicsPoetry East, and Peripheries and his translations of poems from Spanish in Harvard Divinity Bulletin and The Battersea Review.

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