SEZ (Everything Speaks)

Live Canon, London, 2015

'A sequence and selection of immediate responses to what happens on the street, in offices, parties, riding a bus, the train, passing a storefront, overhearing a conversation, sending and receiving a text, SEZ was initially written on an iphone. I sent these <texts> <pieces> <text pieces> <excerpts> to my wife. Sometimes she prompted them. I began this manuscript in this way for immediacy, for catching life before it runs away to the next block, for recording responses before they disappear into another lost moment.'

Marcus Smith



The ad, sign, shoes, next street,
Your lobster walking the leash.
They say don’t be ridiculous –
We’re not ridiculous. They say –
Suddenly everything speaks.


'A great idea beautifully done.'  Andy Croft, Smokestack Books



The buzz, the vibration ­–
Who? Now? Why? Must.
Now – in my pocket.

Reach for it –
Nothing on, not there.
Phantom ring.


'Marcus Smith uses our ambivalent contemporary concepts of  ’mobility’ and ‘connection’ to quietly subvert the city, revealing within its apparent fixity a wealth of what might be called free associations, dense intersections of thought and thing in which, quite literally, everything speaks. His careful, fluid and seemingly simple poems will change how you see the urban environment, enriching it as they do with huge potential, and revealing unseen routes of thought and feeling through and in the concrete that run counter to any known map.'

Keith Jafrate, The Word Hoard



One shoe lying in the street.
Two tossed on the crosswalk.
More shoes leading to the bridge.
A path, a pattern, a confetti
Of lost, removed, discarded shoes –
Old pumps, new flats, heels, trainers,
Shoes without names, shoes I can’t name,
Shoes made for the future, shoes soon
From the past, shoes like spring petals,
Broken canes, cracked bones, shoes
Wrinkled as skin, buckles twisted, straps
Torn and snapped, tongues dried up,
Shoes heading to the tunnel, marching
Across the square, strolling around
The arcades, pausing along the esplanades,
Running and darting and scuffling
Through an alley to a dead-end pile
Of shoes.  Someone there, in shoes,
Looks back as if to find where are they­ –
The barefoot people – and follows
A fading footfall down the ramp
To a river of shoes carried off.


'Marcus Smith’s “text” poems are rich in their understanding of the everyday. Focusing on the increasing importance of our reliance on electronics and the ghost presences that haunt us, these short poems find ways to understand “A place you’d have for your soul’s mate.” Counterpointing loss and renewal, sky and land, presence and absence, the self and the other, Marcus Smith finds ways to define one of those terms in each pairing through the other. Indeed otherness becomes a main issue, and so self-identity: “Someone there, in shoes, / Looks back as if to find where are they,” and where we are in in the midst of a fascinating world.'

Richard Jackson, poet, critic


The Square

These two smiling and striding,
Hugging longer than the bells.
Sisters?  Classmates?
Is this their longest year of youth?

Jackhammers are attacking,
Taxis enraged.
Tourists on a bench flapping a map.
Red wreaths round ­the sword
On the cross of the cenotaph.
Venus pouring love out of conch.
I can just hear you, Chloe,
Over the cry of the fountains,
Screaming in cold water,
Laughing as I jump in
A spring pool in the mountains,
Our frigid skin tingling.
Is that you in the sports car
Spinning round the square?
Is this me, here, by the fountain
Happy in the spray?

The tourists now gone.
The friends are gone.
On the bench an Indian woman,
Her sari green as the plane trees,
Tapping her miniscule keypad,
Making mistakes like me.