FRANCIS D. SMITH                     

Woman is Prone to Mysterious Ends

woman is prone to mysterious ends

face down under my hand she
loses every feature but this
face is hid, breasts,
ripe belly and its crop are hid
the body’s entire
expression is self-centered
in this glyphic hill
the architecture of a lost amazon
civilization the texture of foam

palpable cleft mute music

God who sends me
puzzles concerning my destiny
in each corkscrew whelk
in every singing curve of surf
what is it you want of me
that you give me this swelling sign
to ponder? I will ask her myself.


Love calls us to the things of this world

When I have fears like these
listed in the Glossary of Phobias
which teaches me that one can be afraid

of being afraid (phobophobia)
oh, I have it, and it could come again

of gravity (barophobia)
in a universe of levity
love makes a lovely lever
but always the need for a place to stand
always the pull into the trap

one can be afraid
of objects on the left side of the body
(levophobia) be still, my heart

I try to forget, but knowledge is a hard guest
the ingenious Greeks, who taught us everything
we know of fear, were excellent teachers

I cannot flee by train (siderodromophobia)
or boat (thalassophobia)

I even fear the Glossary now
(a fear for which there is no name yet)
its power to remind me
of the number and strength of my fears
if they combine against me

and I fear I'm responsible (hypengyophobia)
not some abstract fate.

Even sitting here makes me tremble (kathisophobia)
writing them out, I sweat and shake (graphophobia)

I'm afraid I've been thinking
of everything else (pantophobia)
hoping to divert my attention
but getting in deeper.

It is afternoon and will be dark soon
(my achluophobia is starting up)
the flowers in the side yard
seem more brilliant, more threatening
than ever now (anthophobia)

what if the stars fall! (astrophobia)

or what if you do not call, miss the bus
go off with someone else? I am afraid
more than of my life continuing
that you will miss your bus.