This Can’t Be

By Bruce Smith b. 1946 Bruce Smith
the place of consequence, the station of his embrace.   
Or else I’m not son enough to see
the innocence and the spiritual fiddlings
in the uneven floorboards and joists,
in the guttural speech of the pipes,
in the limp and the lack of heat.
All we need, all we really need is light!
And let there be a roof with no leaks.
Oh father landlord, fill up all our breaches.

He gives himself to the cracks; into the chinks   
my father lowers his bone,
the do-it-yourself funeral. He holds the wires   
in his teeth. He strips the insulation back.   
If it’s black, it’s juiceless; if it’s red, elegiac.

Bruce Smith, “This Can’t Be” from Silver and Information. Copyright © 1985 by Bruce Smith. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Georgia Press.

Source: Silver and Information (University of Georgia Press, 1985)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Bruce Smith b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities

Holidays Father's Day

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Bruce  Smith

Biography

Originally from Philadelphia, Bruce Smith is the author of several books of poems, including The Other Lover (2000), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Influenced by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, Smith’s poetry moves like jazz, incorporating images and narratives into a startling, musically unified whole. In a 2007 interview, Smith explained his poetry’s aspiration to song: “When the language . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.