From Issue I (2016)  


The Starfish


As long as they both lived,
my parents told of the starfish
they beachcombed in California
and triple-bagged
for the two-day train ride home.

Laid out in the Illinois backyard
to air off before cleaning
and a lacquered afterlife,
the carcass basked
until a possum seized
one spiny leg, like any other scrap,
and, climbing up and over
a redwood fence, took all five
from future mantelpiece to legend.


Questions on Toads


Where do they begin
and the mud around them end?

What wand was waved
to animate the dust just
long enough to sculpt it,
leaving lumps and bulges to jump
and—when they must—couple,
hunt by luck and tongue
but mostly sit,
little more than mineral
under twigs and duff,
among protruding roots and rocks?

If clusters of protein and moisture
are what these warted
forms amount to,
why is coming upon
a plane of skin and guts
crushed under a truck tire
(or, if young, underfoot)
attended by, however small, regret?

J.D. Smith

J.D. Smith’s fourth poetry collection, The Killing Tree, was published by Finishing Line Press in July of 2016. In 2007 he was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry from the United States National Endowment for the Arts. His individual poems have appeared in publications including Dark Mountain and Terrain.