Tiles, like never before here, flash
as pieces on the faces of dried out flesh
in the space where our damp tents slump
against springtime cement, our glorious
street of destiny

Cracking, waterless despite the downpours,
our cheeks split and spit out death
in exchange for life, from instincts to survive
as wasted capital, no more than refuse
for the human resources

I loved perhaps more than I ought to have
on days when coins were tight as
jealous fists, on days when I left the building sides
to travel moonroads toward pearly depths,
inserted into my closet-like mind

I ask myself what I look like to you, and say
what you see cannot be me, crowned in the
mascara of filth, unwashed in a distressed dress
that flows frayed out from scabbed skin,
and inside, like curdled milk, through the
once-wonderful veins of my body, flows life
now not worth the laundering

Lost for other values, I rise to swim
in Elsewhere, for what is here is outcast
through the cold of a magical dearth,
a surplus of my overwhelming on this glorious
street of destiny

Insert me not
into cozy enclosure then, that you
would call capital dream,
homes and yards for the warm, thin, porcelain
faces of comfort to feel good in
that resist breaking on water shelves
beside our glorious camps
of destiny

Salt rises with hot evaporation, and there
for spice it lies to feed those
less hungry, oven-owning, and more afraid
than the many in rain
whose birth
was in something like sorrowshine

And salt-sweat is the mad-mirrored silence
that slows
into the sink-song of squalor’s circles
before its blackwater spirals down
into the blindness of this American drain


(c) J. Celan Smith