Silver and Information

By Bruce Smith b. 1946 Bruce Smith
An obituary has more news than this day,
brilliant, acid yellow and silver
off the water at land’s end. The disparate
prismatic things blind you as they fin
their way across the surface of the water.
This light cannot inform you of your dying.

Fish of lustrous nothing, fish of desire,
fish whose push and syllable
can make things happen,
fish whose ecstatic hunger
is no longer news, and fish whose mouth
zeroes the multitudes, the hosts
who wait for their analogies
and something nice to eat, the billions
the waves commemorate in their breaking
down to their knees on the shore,
their cloacal sound. Now
how can I stay singular?
How can even ore part die
when I split and split
like the smallest animal
in the ocean until I’m famous
in my dismemberment, splendid
in my hunger, and anonymous—
so that naming one
is like naming one runnel
the sea, or one drop of blood
the intoxicating passion?

I keep the multitudes in mind
when I hear daily that one
has murdered another. A news
more silver than given,
more light than anything
captured. And I hold them all
in mind—the fulgence, the data,
and the death, or else I lose it,
that package of slippery fish,
that don’t die exactly but smell
in a heaven so low we can hear
the moans and feel the circles
and bite in each cell.

Bruce Smith, “Silver and Information” from Silver and Information. Copyright © 1985 by Bruce Smith. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Georgia Press.

Source: Silver and Information (1985)

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Poet Bruce Smith b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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 Bruce  Smith


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 . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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