Obbligato

By Bruce Smith b. 1946 Bruce Smith
Late August was a pressure drop,   
rain, a sob in the body,   

a handful of air   
with a dream in it,   

summer was desperate   
to paradise itself with blackberry   

drupelets and swarms, everything   
polychromed, glazed, sprinkler caps   

gushing, the stars like sweat   
on a boxer's skin. A voice   

from the day says   
Tax cuts   

for the rich or scratch   
what itches or it's a sax   

from Bitches Brew,   
and I'm a fool   

for these horns   
and hues, this maudlin   

light. It's a currency of feeling   
in unremembered March.   

There's a war on and snow in the
                        city   
where we've made our desire stop   

and start. In the dying school of Bruce   
I'm the student who still believes   

in the bad taste of the beautiful   
and the sadness of songs   

made in the ratio   
of bruise for bruise.

Source: Poetry (April 2004).

 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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Music, Arts & Sciences, Summer

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Imagery, Allusion, Assonance, Consonance, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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