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The Poetic Hill

J.D. Smith is a District writer who has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The poem below is from his fourth poetry collection, “The Killing Tree” (2016); other books include the essay collection, “Dowsing and Science” (2011) and the children’s picture book, “The Best Mariachi in the World” (2008). He lives in Southwest with his wife, Paula Van Lare, and their rescue animals. www.jdsmithwriter.com


As if it weren’t enough to be itself,

A boneless fist evolved—condemned to clench,

To pump some billion times or so between

The first translucent flutter in the womb

And a sudden stop or stuttering toward death,

The heart is faced with pressure from all sides.

Parts north and south would crown their colleague king

And cause of all their willing and their want.

The heart brooks none of this—it has a job

And isn’t looking for another one.

And democratic flattery will fail,

As somewhere in the heart a voice is heard

To say, “If nominated, I will not run

And, if I am elected, I will not serve.”

For reasons of its own, the heart insists

With every pulse, “Not me. Not me. Not me.”

If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to klyon@literaryhillbookfest.org. (There is no remuneration.)

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