Click here to listen to Bruce Smith read this poem.
That thing you sent didn’t open,
didn’t change my life as it should, didn’t complicate,
or play, although it made a hate
crime, a love note—both of those—a stolen
thing from the Congo passed through France
then shown to Picasso by Matisse at Stein’s apartment
a carving, a mask, a dance—a misrepresented
soul that became the thing—a trance
we lived in while we built the Great Wall,
The Chrysler Building, the Erie Canal—servants
to the civilization, dowsing, digging,
never stopping to drink. God strangled
of our gifted lives, our lies, our singing.