Christopher Henry Smith

Independent Arts Administrator

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box of most special things

“i’m trying to give you this,”
you breathed.
“it is a present—a
box to hold your most special things.”

you gave me a—surprisingly large—box for
pencils & neckties & pills & ball-rolled belts & travel alarm clock in his own tidy box
(unfolding only once—
for tangiers to
behold her current time),

& (in numinous tomb-like corner) droves of
your freed bobby-pins,
martyrs gathered from carpet & bed sheets,
when liberty minded (or suicidecrazy) they
abandoned hair-holding to fly south
& lay out in more comfortable climes—
emancipated in a letting go—
single-most daring act of their entire lives—

& pocket watch & ticket stubs & bottle caps & knife—
but not my steely, brazen knife—
nemesis of dead tree branches,
cardboard boxes & trespassers
(on that night we were certain
we heard someone downstairs
& I had to arm myself,
but it was only our cat)—
no, my slugabed bone-cased blade—
rival of pencil shavings, packing twine,
& my poor thumb when i’m drunk,
(that you said was factory-made
& sweated together by malaysian children
& i said was skilled eskimo scrimshaw hand scrawled
& you said well we can pretend
& i just smiled).

a box for papers, papers, papers—
amber-tinged news clippings of fading significance,
reminiscent of make-believe pirate treasure maps,
but with too many x’s—
names & places now only
purplyblack hue of day’s end;
& love notes back & forth from
sleepless three bottle wine nights
of too many cigarettes & broken expensive things
& dawn-screaming from rooftops
with tar-streaked lungs at morning sun
that HE’S NOT WELCOME HERE (!)
& voter-registration card you insisted i acquire
(though i’m not voting again until they
put a buddhist on their ticket);

& arrowheads & coins & shakespearean sonnet
& part of a chain & lamely waning bag of marijuana
& my tiny gold elephant—
a gift from hannah traveling in cambodia—
(sister come back I miss you)
& cufflinks with scrabble-board “c”
which matt bought from a barber in the french quarter—
(brother come back I miss you too)
& incense that smells of
beaches & god sent from karen in care packages from home—
(mother you can stay).

my box of my most special things
blazing with ecstasy
& immortal hope
& violent breathing nostalgia

that you cannot
see from where
you are now
& i want you to,
but you might as well
be on the moon,

where moonmen have
captured you &
put you in their own
box of most special things,
making me your
love-sick astronaut
trying to build my
space craft, so i
can fly & fly & fly
all night

past tangiers & malaysia & alaska & cambodia & new orleans
& bellow down canyons
at your moonmen captors

“GREETINGS MOONMEN!
the time has come:

i will give you my
box of most special things
if you will give me yours.”

Austin, TX
2008

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