The Hassle of the Tassle

I should write a poem about graduation.
It should be easy,
as I’ve written it over and over again
in my head since the end of sophomore year.
Graduation.
Once so distant,
it is now only a day away
and I find myself tearing up as I type.
For once in my life,
there are no words to describe the way I feel.
Love is describable,
and has been time and time again
by the likes of Shakespeare, Browning, and Cummins.
Sadness is easily covered,
simply look at the news.
Never has it been so alive,
spread thick by the media like bread on butter.
Fear is portrayed
by all the poems never written–
with words that sit on the tongue
only to never be released.
It is the uncertainty that leaves us feeling vulnerable,
even when things are going well.
Excitement–
that’s the stuff of Hollywood cliffhangers
and sci-fi suspense.
We sit silently in theatres,
legs tense and gaze unwavering,
anticipating what’s to come.
Last but not least,
there is joy.
Joy in things small in large,
far and near,
there and here–
Joy is everywhere and needs no descriptor.
But as months have turned to weeks,
turned to days,
turned to hours,
and somewhere along the way
I became a kaleidoscope of these emotions,
a collage of colors and designs that collapse upon themselves
with even the slightest change.

Writing a poem about graduation should be easy,
but my head and my heart have never been more confused.
-ZCS

On Getting Stuck.

For some reason,
you are the web
that keeps ensnaring my
stumbling step.
You don’t mean it–
you never have
and you never will.
But nonetheless,
I’m stuck–
and you’re the only one to blame.
I’ve struggled and shrugged,
trying to rid myself of you.
If only it was that easy.
If only I could just reopen my eyes,
wipe the sleep from my heavy lids,
and be free of the wretched spell you’ve cast.
It seems,
from my perspective,
that it’s far more than physical.
I’m tongue-tied and tethered,
brain-bound and gagged,
knotted and secured
by a worn strip of nylon,
running from my head to my heart.
Shackles slow steps steadily,
leaving my legs lethargic
and strides uneven;
every movement dragging me closer and closer
to the earthy path which I sluggishly traverse.
I’m a hostage in my own body,
hijacked by an unseen assailant.
I’m a raving lunatic in a straightjacket,
waiting to be thrown in the psych ward.
All because of you.
As I sit here,
waiting to be wheeled away,
all I can do is laugh and shake my head.
Here I am again,
stuck between your love and a hard place.
-ZCS

**Image: “Spider Web” by Haxonite

Art in The Concrete Jungle

I’ve tried for the longest time to understand art,
yet it always seems to evade me.
With camera at the ready,
I’m your average tourist,
looking for something interesting and new–
something exciting and original
that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
More often than nought,
I manage to come across a piece fitting this description.
Finding original works of beauty has never been a problem,
especially with the wealth of creativity that exists today.
The problem is–
unfortunately–
I don’t get it.
I love looking at photographs,
admiring the work of digital artists,
even gazing over beautiful paintings.
I can stand for twenty minutes and intensely analyze a piece,
only to realize that my interpretations were completely
off base with the author’s.
Who knows better than the author,
right?
Wrong.
Today, it hit me.
Not just hit me–
it barreled into me with the strength of a freight train,
knocking my sorry ass to the concrete sidewalk of Chicago
as I was trying to grasp the meaning of a sculpture.
When I stood up and recovered,
I looked down at the boy as he dusted himself off.
“I’m sorry mister!”
Mister?
At eight or nine years old,
this boy was very clearly mistaken.
“We’re on our school trip to Chicago today!
Are you here on one too?!”
His excitement made me laugh,
eyes holding me in place with the intense gaze only a kid could muster.
“Actually I am.
Do you like the sculpture?”
I could barely contain myself as I watched him twist his entire body
and lower his head to get a different view.
“I think it’s a lion.”
Title of the sculpture on the plaque?
David and Goliath of Gath.
As I was about to read the plaque aloud for him and explain,
his friend ran up to him and pointed at the statue.
“Look Kyle!
It’s an elephant!”
It turns out,
if I wanted to truly “get” art,
all it would have taken was a simple conversation
between with a second grader named Kyle.
Because suddenly–
I understood art.
-ZCS

**Photographs taken by Zach C. Smith

Pitter-Patter

It’s pouring rain
and the drainage ditches on the side of the road
have long since overflowed.
Headlights swerve to and fro in the dark cloak of night–
unable to follow the lines of the road
or the curve of the guardrail.
When the car smashes through the heavy metal,
it also smashes through the silence.
While the night was once filled
with the calm pitter-patter of rain,
it’s suddenly drowned out
by the guttural screams of a wounded steel beast
ripping from it’s cage.
It doesn’t just tumble down the cliffside–
but bounces and flips
like a demented thrill ride
from a cheap traveling carnival.
At the bottom of the ravine,
the vehicle is still–
resting awkwardly against a rotting pine.
In the silence that follows,
it’s impossible not to become aware
of the pitter-patter of the rain–
quietly falling and tumbling
through the nighttime sky.
-ZCS

**Image: “Rain” by Bartek via Deviantart

Thinking.

I haven’t written anything in a while.

By that, I don’t mean that I haven’t published anything in a while. If this is your first time reading my page, I have plenty of other things published on this page. However, a lot of my writing has just been sitting on my Google Drive– waiting for me to post and see the light of day. Life’s just been so hectic lately. Anyone else think so? With the school year coming to an end, it’s been difficult finding any time. But today, I carved out a solid hour to write “Thinking.” I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to edit and revise, so here it is in all it’s word jumble glory.

Thanks for reading,

Zach C. Smith

Thinking

While I write this,
I sit in a little coffee house
on the corner of 5th and Main,
writing words
full of emotion and void of thought
because nobody will ever read them anyways.

I can’t think when I write because
it moves me in the wrong direction.
Instead of adding new lines,
I find myself following the precedent set by society
by crossing out entire stanzas,
ripping out notebook pages and
getting frustrated that I can’t come up
with the right words
right this very second
to hit you somewhere you’ll feel it–
but won’t hurt or offend.
Even worse,
it might make someone realize
just how hard someone else’s life can be.
But that’s alright,
I tell myself–
I didn’t need those words anyways.
I sit in a coffee shop and
watch the people around me,
so absorbed in their work,
their food, and their conversations—
It’s comforting; knowing that nobody
may ever actually read this.
Don’t get me wrong I hope they do!
That one day I’ll walk into
some bustling hipster coffee shop
and come across someone
who looks like me but isn’t—
reading my page.
He’ll be sitting there with black framed reading glasses,
scrolling down the page and nodding to himself
with a cup of some overpriced drink–
something with a lengthy name and too much foam.
Slowly he’ll reach for his bag,
where he has an empty notebook
that he’s been meaning to write in but hasn’t–
and a black pen that he loves because of how smooth it writes.
It will lie open on the table for some time
before he finally writes a word.
He’ll write his heart out for thirty minutes,
vividly recounting a story from his past
about how he struggled with friendships
and how they never seemed to stick.
But then he’ll remember his other homework,
and that he needs to quit doing things
like reading and writing because
colleges are looking for engineers
and you can’t fix a bridge with your words.
As he pulls out a binder and returns
the notebook to the depths of his backpack
I’ll finish my drink and head for the door,
finally aware of the fate that I myself narrowly avoided.

For now,
I’ll just sit in this little coffee house
on the corner of 5th and Main
writing words
full of emotion and void of thought
because nobody will ever read them anyways.
-ZCS

Automaton

I am an automaton
With perfect symmetry
And poise
Writing to you
From a desk
That never moves
With hands
That grip a pen
And nothing more
Cogs spin in my head
Gears grind in my heart
Pulling chains that
Keep me moving
In a way that some
Describe as human
Yet I am not
My eyes do not see
My ears do not hear
My mouth does not speak
And as long as
I sit in this wooden chair
I never will
Metal ribs and rivets
Fastened not by God
But science and passion
Forged by fire
In the home of Hephaestus
Copper cogs carefully cleaned
Metal mechanics meticulously maintained
Gears gleaned and gilded
I am an automaton

-ZCS

On Hate.

I always thought I was incapable of hate
until I met you.

The way you look back at me
with an unwavering gaze
and eyes full of judgement–
condescension cutting through me
like a serrated knife.

The way you stand
with your arms crossed–
head smugly cocked to the side,
deliberating if there’s something wrong with me
or if I’m just an idiot.

The way you dress
and really don’t seem to give a damn
about what other people think–
even though people are staring
and you really should.

The way you smile shyly back at me
like we’re friends or something–
when in reality my hatred burns with
more passion than the sun,
more fire than hell itself.

I always thought I was incapable of hate
until I looked in the mirror.

-ZCS

 

**“Mirror” by Royalshake via Deviantart