A poem by Eric Smith

The Vanishing Doomed Boy Trick

Morning begins with a blueprint and I erect

my body’s skyscraper with it: seventeen stories

of glass and steel, my reflection in every window.

Even if the body is its own preparation

for failure, who knew it would be this

catastrophic? Or this fun? The streets are a mess

with the debris of a thousand failed Wednesdays

and my chest is ringing.

   It’s the foreman. Again.

I can see from my perch at the end of this girder

that tests the air with its rust-colored tongue

that the foreman wears a yellow hardhat and favorite

flannel, a cell glued to his ear. He’s such a nice man.

Down on the street, they’re inflating a lung

of bright plastic. That’s probably my secretary

on the curb. A knot of uniforms is trying to herd her

and a number of other people across the street.

The foreman reminds me I doesn’t have to do this.

I shout back, “the temporary respite

that insanity offers is still on the table,

licking itself.”

          And while I scratch myself in places

that are inappropriate, I promise I’m in no danger.

Even if this brain is a malfunctioning bumper car,

and I am a forgotten grammar without cases,

the trees are peeling with an arboreal mange,

and I hold in his hand the dried-out hearts

of every mouse who ever chewed insulation,

I can say I’m fairly comfortable

trusting the lime green paradox of the mojito.

Listen to these electric hymns to mosquitos,

all the symmetries evolution gave up on

when it put us together.

Now watch me disappear.

Eric Smith’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Five Points,
Greensboro Review, Measure, Pleiades, and Smartish Pace. He is an
editor for Cellpoems and teaches at Marshall University.