One Possible Meaning

By Charlie Smith b. 1947 Charlie Smith
This afternoon the park is filled with brides.
Among varieties of persuasion the big trees turn back toward the forest.
Adventurers gather in side streets.
The police are looking hard at the sky.
Down at the bay, boys trapped in solitude fish.
Girls hike their pants and stare at the wave line,
remembering secrets they once held dear.
The day offers a ridiculous variation as
an excuse for not coming in on time.
Wild imaginings take the place of religion.
Someone who can't swim offers to cook.
We've devised a means for the obstinate children
to be fed, she says, but no one understands this.
We crave affection, but give only advice.
There are walls topped with broken bicycles.
Someone makes an obscene offer and this
is the best we get all day. Oh don't give in
so easily she says, handing over the keys.
We climb the blue fire escape.
We would like to keep going,
skyline climbers, old men remembering their childhood
who devise a few illegal experiences no one wants to try.
It gets to be more than the officers can take.
The park is dusty, dark, yet the children,
ignored all day, play on, convinced their dedication
releases a magic that changes everything.

Source: Poetry (June 1998).


This poem originally appeared in the June 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

View this poem in its original format

June 1998
 Charlie  Smith


Poet and novelist Charlie Smith was born in Moultrie, Georgia. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and, after serving in the Peace Corps in Micronesia, earned a BA from Duke University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He has written five New York Times Notable Books and has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has also won the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Living, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Landscapes & Pastorals, Youth, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

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.