VISITING MY COUNTRY
Wanderers, everyday travelers lost in traffic, doomed immigrants “dreaming a better life,” tourists pausing for ten seconds to admire the grace of a cathedral before they must rush back to their Common Era, famous recluses, lovers waking to the lonely bellow of foghorns on a cold grey morning, neurotic successes, disillusioned inheritors of the new Eastern Europe, adults feeling like anonymous guests in their own homes and families, sideshow characters such as “The Amazing Man of Willful Silence,” concert-goers waiting for “the next call to rhapsody” – these are the people of a worldwide country without borders or cultural comfort, and they speak in a variety of voices and carefully chosen forms which enhance their voices. Whether they are deep sea diving to and from their depths, diving under their desks during the after-shocks of a quake, probing the sky for “visitors from above,” or simply driving around without apparent purpose, the inhabitants of Marcus Smith’s country of visitors bravely face our transitory world and learn they must “… accept a life/Stamped passport, age, profession, sky” or instead search for the joy and solace of “the heraldic moment.”
A Cinnamon Press Book Award finalist.
'Marcus Smith is a poet of the first order, and VISITING MY COUNTRY is a debut collection that should in the very near future be well-published. M. Smith has both the prosodic chops and the imaginative drive that are key to the formation of a substantial career. Although the poems remain firmly rooted in the worlds of the senses and daily life, they also possess a narrative inventiveness, a kind of mythic realism, that makes the familiar consummately strange. His poems already possess the verve, resonance, and authority that we more typically expect from a writer much farther along in a career.'
David Wojahn, poet, critic
'When we read a line like “I heard an earthquake shaking complacency like dice,” we understand how adeptly Marcus Smith blends concrete events with psychological states. This is a poet who knows he must “dive deeper, down to the black zone /of big-mouthed eels, down to the muck and worms,” but what we find when we dive into that muck, the stuff of everyday living, is, again, something of the self: “I look down from the depths of my shallows.” One hears the poet talking to himself in a way that allows us to overhear, to enter into his unique process of thinking and feeling.'
Richard Jackson, poet, critic
Where is the light? Lost in a daze of fever and drugs,
I slept all afternoon, coughing up fears. In dark so heavy
It pins me down, I struggle to rise and rush outside
Before another phantom day disappears in fog.
It has rained. November already? I have missed spring
And summer, and new storefronts shout the future:
When did the hammer become a dress? I used to know
Names in windows, slang on the street. I could tell you
Where I was going and what I lived for. Darling, I’m
Light as the runaway newspapers snapping at my feet,
I’ve overslept my era, brief as it was. In my old coat
I emerge from years dark as an Amsterdam attic
To sleepwalk dusk across foreign avenues.
A few lost hours, a life of lost hours. Now what?