metamorphosis II.nterrupted, Jared John Smith

IMG_2210Untitled, London Bellman


metamorphosis II.nterrupted


7.anywhere, arizona

fixed on painkillers

starlit black blanketing,
veil against a harsh moon
and city lamps

homeless father
pretend music drifting through the dash
lights out, night presses up to his truck
like a body bag

no minutes left
to call me

6.It’s All So Peaceful on the Other Side

Late nights,
Mystery Science Theater reruns,
beneath a charcoal-black grand piano
reporting the day’s activity on my Underwood,
jabbing the buttons with my index,
click, click, or tap, tap,
the long vaaaazeeng! Ding!

Mom brings Dreyer’s chocolate
in a white ceramic bowl,
says, “Looks like you need a new ribbon.”

Zenith radio singing
collecting dust
while grandpa slept

a week before the four strokes


This is not for you, but for you to read—I
write for myself, the man of twenty and
fast-aging; more traits of my father
surface daily, like bubbles of revelations,
rising while I submerge against my will;
depressive genetics manically drown me,
roll over me, swallowed in a tumultuous
sea of feeling, head beating to the
quickened rhythm of my swollen heart
now anchoring me to this slow descent,
lungs filling with words until my eyes
bleed salt; tumbling, helpless, in a blue-
black void, I realize the impending
outcome and swallow my pride, the
whole of the ocean, until I sit alone in the

                                 of a wide empty basin.

Some nights I want to swim home to
shore, relax, and drain my plugged-up
ears, because when I’m angry I can only
hear myself and I fear the same for you; if
you are destined to be born, will you sink
like me?

Or can I teach you how to swim?


Swam ashore burping up rum

is all I recall of yesterday

burnt out sockets
oily hair oily beard
staring in a mirror

I recall a faraway ship,
billowing sails blown
then eastward
away from home, toward Arizona

dad was captain
in my dream


wander in a crowded forest
like King Max
into my bed of dirt,
warm brown sheets

Soft rings,
I answer groggily
hearing Jordan’s smile
in her spritely tone

“My parents enjoyed
having you
this weekend at the beach”


alive for a thousand years
twenty, awake in May

so long to smoking
hello, insomnia

books papers soda cans pennies
less clutter than broken sentences
breaking my brain

a friend once said
describe your house

white windowless interior
translucent ceiling for sun
on a high hill alone
overlooking a valley

afraid of the dark
sleep scares me more

too attached to fleeting dreams
would rather never live

space out staring down the page
that cannot answer
who I am

barely recognize myself
like Seth Brundle in the Fly
musing over insect politics
secretly hoping someone
has the guts to kill me

2.on a school night

Cathode-ray tubes humming,
emitting soft frequencies;
within an imperfect luminescent cube,
the Princess Bride reliving itself the fourteenth time.

in the awkwardly-bent folds of a ruined futon,
scraping butter out of a burnt popcorn bag,
unopened envelopes addressed to me
wedged under the blanket;
paycheck tucked in my back-pocket,
a meager reserve barely belonging to me
after I weigh the debt;

after I weigh ourselves,
the night stops just for us
to deposit the pay
to devour sourdough bread, spaghetti, garlic spread, minestrone;
we catch a flick,
buy fresh fruit by the light of the moon,
fall asleep
tasting smoothies.

1.building a flowerbed

Dried-palms beat stone,
working sweat into soil, turning mud in my hands,
like being five again
playing in the sand with my faceless father
wedging gray bricks together as evening crumbled.

Mother attempts to imitate, straining to make one brick fit;

I steal, along with the heavy stone piece she bears, her pains;

wrinkles etched into cheeks ripping a smile,
mother lifts another stone;

I ignore the grunting, the weaker creature
wants something growing.

I help her lift,
we fit the pieces to resemble something
longer-lasting than a sandcastle.

0.what I remember best

Olive carpeting worn to wax,
floorboards weakened forty years,
sagging flower-papered walls kneeling inward,
honoring Anne, a lady queen to this sinking abode.

My grandmother’s sweet hazel eyes
in this silent hallway;
memories glazing my tongue with
frozen maple bars and cocoa puffs,
boyish eyes welling up with
images of wrinkled fingers figuring crossword puzzles
while Tony Bennett sang
it’s all so peaceful on the other side;

mother soon forgets,
breaking down with her childhood home;

eyelids rusted,
lower lip gaping, like rain filtering through chipped shingles,
hunched over, crooked, like ceilings better trying to see the dead;

mother sobbing in her mother’s white hair,
wailing with a wrathful god;

before time will
wrench us from our crumbling paradise, a call beckons.
Filing down a darkened hall,
her children pause laying steady hands
upon her pale steady lips saying farewell;

my fists decay like rotting wood,
fingers loosen, dangling, I
stare into unseeing eyes
unwavering, unable
to support such weight in my throat,
unable to speak.

Jared John Smith

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