FLORIDA IN WINTER
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.