Rick Smith was raised in Manhattan, Paris, Toledo, Ohio and Bucks County, PA. He began writing under the guidance of Michael Casey at Solebury School in PA. Close family friendships and Carl Sandburg and Lenore Marshall also made a lasting impact on Rick’s life choices. He went on to study with Anthony Hecht at Bard College, George Starbuck, Marvin Bell and Frank Polite at the University of Iowa and Sam Eisenstein at Los Angeles City Collage. Smith learned blues harmonic in the “basket houses” of Greenwich Village and in the roadhouses of Duchess County. Smith founded the City Lights on the Sunset Strip in 1965 and has played and recorded with Van Dyke Parks, Big Joe Williams, Bernie Perl, Clabe Hangan and Steve Mann as well as producing with John Lyon, “Hand To Mouth”, a well-reviewed LP of originals. During the 70’s he joined Dan Ilves to co-edit the literary journal, Stonecloud.  His poems are published widely in anthologies and magazines such as New Letter, Onthebus, Blueline, Hanging Loose, Pinyon, Eclipse, Paper Street, Lummox, Rattle, Rhino and Main Street Rag. His book of poetry, Hard Landing, (Lummox Press, 2010), is a lyrical tribute to the mystical “wren”, a character with characteristics not unlike the human spirit.

 

From Hard Landing:

The morning air bursts
with bird conversation
dialogue and incantation
debate and invitation.
Wren is drunk with company
and sudden purpose.
Next door,
in a cottonwood,
a mockingbird
becomes a cell phone
ringing in the wild.

* * * * *

ghost wren
dreaming on a cable
posed
and still
like a shadow
about to dart
into a windless space
flesh and fiber
anticipating
the tension of wound steel
a cello in the night
an ordinary cello
still
in a windless room

* * * * *

Something dangerous,
a red-tailed hawk
and coming fast,
like wind
off Lake Michigan.

Wren, lost in dreams,
freezes, off-guard.

The hawk
snaps a yard rat
off a clothesline
not ten feet away.

Motionlessness
disguises anxiety.

Wren breaks out
of dream time,
arguing with unruly ghosts

* * * * *

A grey wren
foolish enough
to believe in Indian summer
stares into a black
and gritty wind
shakes with every gust,
imagines a subtle hand
on a dimmer switch
in a night
slow descending.

When wren is absent
where does she go?

 

Rick Smith

 

 

2012 Rick Smith


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