80 degrees and I’m somewhere between swamp gas and sunlight,

That burning eye at the end of a Marlboro, particles of ash hanging

In air, and I could drift down to rest in the ashtray, or just keep going.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing deeper than the heart of the river, St John’s

not Swanee—     And only four and a half feet until you hit         mud,

But you’d never guess it from the wake,                    brackish spume

Catching rays          like so many bits of glass from the brown bottle

River,       diamond        dust from limestone.        I can’t take glass

On the boat, though,           only as many cans of cheap beer as’ll fit

Around the people.    Old   folks            in no particular rush set out

For nowhere special, admiring the ripped up roots along the shore

Upended by the latest hurricane to turn            its gaze on the state

Of emergency.            Some palmetto          palaver:    See that dock

Impaled on a dead tree,         the owner’s               still           waiting

For the government           to fix it.           State               of insurance

Fraud.          The rest of the country            waiting for its             fall

      Into the sea.             It just keeps going.                       Take a look

At that knot of                    snake-birds,                        the lone osprey

In the tall pine,           that clutch of leaves turning red           almost.

Time passes               here, too.          Get back           before the bugs

Wake                 up, float     back into the swamp,        come to rest

Next to the dock         where          the meth head’s brother hanged

Himself. Is that    all?      Compressed air hissing in the cricket night

               I     crack        open                                      another one                   .


T.J. Smith is a poet in New York. Originally from Jacksonville, FL, he studied German and Creative Writing at Princeton. He’s currently completing an MFA at NYU where he is also the incoming Web Editor of Washington Square Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gyroscope Review, Drunk Monkeys, Red Flag Poetry and Nassau Literary Review.