Poetry

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronIn 1985, a British Romantic Period Literature class changed my life. The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats wakened in me a passion for writing. I determined to somehow make a career of it—and somehow feed my children.

From then forward, I worked exclusively in publishing, first for game companies, then in education, while continuing to write, study, and promote poetry. It’s my opinion that poetry used to belong to the people, until academics stole it. It’s high time to steal it back from them.

For My Birthday

Lester : May 19, 2009 6:27 am : Announcements, Poetry

For my birthday, God gave me a cake.

He frosted it with filigrees of color from
countless vermilion sunsets
shining on sapphire
seas and ochroid sands.

Inside, a feast of worms.

He set it on a plate decorated
with images of doves and
dying children.

“Make a wish,” He said,
with a smile
of expectation.

I could not meet his eye.

“Really,” I said, “You shouldn’t have.”
 
 
—Lester Smith
 
 
(Originally appeared in Woud You Dance?)

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JENNY

Lester : May 18, 2009 6:16 am : Announcements, Poetry

If the sun were a bowling ball,
I have read,
the earth would be a peppercorn
somewhere down the hill
across the street.

If the earth were a bowling ball,
someone said,
its face were smoother still,
ocean deeps and mountain heights
signifying nothing.

How then should I cross that ocean,
climb that mountain,
and tell the sun
my fascination with your face?

Better just to take you bowling
and smile to see
you
laughing
as the pins fall.

—Lester Smith

(Originally appeared in Woud You Dance?)

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X O X O X

Lester : April 26, 2009 8:00 am : Announcements, Poetry

I paid good money
to play Tic Tac Toe
with a caged chicken.

I dropped my coin in the slot
and marked my X.
The chicken picked its O.
X O X O X—a draw; I tried again.
X O X O X O X—again a draw;
I dropped another coin.

Outside, flies swarmed and killdeers fed.
Light faded and night shadows took hold.
Days passed endlessly to evening.
Mountains rose and fell.
And soon enough, the killdeers fed the flies.

Inside, X O X O X the struggle went.
And far too slow, I came to understand
that I could never beat this bird.
Like death, it never chose in error.
Stalemate was the best I ever could achieve.

And then it came to me:
I had already lost!

Because I paid good money
to play Tic Tac Toe
with a caged chicken.
 
 
(Originally appeared in Wisconsin People and Ideas)

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