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Katherine Smith

KSMithKatherine Smith’s publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.



The years roll by
with their bowls of red berries and yogurt,
cinnamon, apples, and toast,
yapping yorkies and crusts of hard frost
and their frightful abysses.

Where is the law
that will make night pay
the slap of its hand against the cheek,
the bruise of loneliness and shame,
writ into the dark pupils of nations?

Meanwhile coffee
poured from a silver spigot
and frothed, milky warmth
cradled in the palm,
late mornings full of sunlight
and occasional lovers,
snow in the branches of apple trees

and eternity’s medal of honor:
lemon wedges
sparkling on a silver tray
of smoked salmon and cream.


What is ordinary?
Tuna salad with olive oil,
garlic, basil, and cilantro;
mint tea, tupelo honey;
melting shards of ice and frozen soil;
leafless branches filled with snow;

reading David Copperfield
blanketed on the couch
under February’s gray heaven.
Workday noises yielded
to stillness; slippered I slouch
round the house till past eleven.

Though I’ve never killed
in my name bombs drop on starry
eyed breathers, sleepers, skilled
lovers of meteors and couches, maimed
while reading, eating, drinking tea.


The ordinary rules
require a cat
and sleep and chocolate.

The ordinary rules
involve the skin, the lips
and sheets and fingertips.

Beyond the hard and fast,
it’s best if linen’s clean
the cat’s fur soft,
and noon not past.

The rules blend froth and cream:
the skin must be beloved,
the coffee poured from above
and drunk to redeem.

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