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Jane EB Smith Dec 2018
I’m looking for a gay cowboy.

I was married to a straight-up ******* for 30 years,
so now I’m looking for a gay cowboy.
One who wears spurs on his boots and
chaps on top of his jeans
with flannel shirts that still have sleeves so
he can slip them through
the arms of a brown wool vest.

I want a gay cowboy who smells of air-dried laundry,
who will compliment my color-coordinated outfits,
clean the lipstick from my teeth,
tease my hair into place,
laugh at my jokes, but
tell me kindly when my jokes fall flat, then
pat my shoulder to let me know it will be okay.

I want a gay cowboy with
a well-trimmed beard and
silvery hair that he can pull into
a pony-tail beneath his cowboy hat.

I want a gay cowboy with
a body that gives evidence that
he’s done the hard work of life,
but I don’t care about six packs unless
they’re in a cooler on the beach.

I don’t care about the color of his eyes or
how tall he is or
if he can use a grill or
vacuums or
empties the dishwasher or
sews cute little throw pillows for the benches in the barn.

In fact, as long as he enjoys clever wordplay,
porch swings,
chickens in the backyard
and people wandering in and out of the house day and night,
he doesn’t even have to be gay.
I wrote this in a hurry to share in a reading group one night while working on my Master's in Fine Arts at Southern New Hampshire University.
Jane EB Smith Jan 2018
Where I live,
there is always noise.
A thousand feet from my back door run
ten lanes of roaring tractor-trailer trucks
piggy-backing double loads,
and Japanese crotch rockets shearing eardrums
with high-pitched whining
and three hundred thousand cars and trucks every single day.
My neighbor says the drone reminds of her the beach,
then she smiles expecting me to agree.
There is an ebb and flow to the sound
from dark rumblings to singing growls.
The sound is incessant like the waves that lap a beach.
But ocean waves are powerful.
They cleanse the sand of footprints and cigarettes.
They leave behind a promise in the smooth,
unsullied surface of newly wet sand.
But those cars and trucks and motorcycles and
mammoth, 18-wheeled beasts leave nothing behind
but oily grit and noise.

Where I live,
there is always sun.
It is an angry sun,
white-hot in lonely, blue skies bereft of comforting clouds.
It is a brazen sun
blinding drivers on their way home.
There is no rain.
No mist.
No fog.
There is only

People who live in wet climates say, "But it's a dry heat, right?"
They don't know that day after day, unrelenting heat
***** every drop of moisture from my skin
and dries my throat until talking is difficult.
They don't know that it roasts my skin
and boils the tears in my eyes,
that it saps the life out of my soul.

in the bitter wind,
alone on the wide front porch,
I remember the heat
and absorb the cold.
I inhale the sharp, frozen air and try to forget
the acrid odor of traffic.
I see soft, blended landscapes covered with pure white
and dotted with blue trees.
the mountains are white and blue and grey.

My mountains are brown and seasonal.
In the winter, when the haze and smog is blown to the sea,
we see majestic peaks tipped in snow--
but when the winds change,
my mountains disappear completely.

I need to go home again.

I will go home.

I will leave behind the peaceful greys and blowing snow.
Next week I'll stand in my backyard
and count the tumbleweeds rolling down
the shallow canyon behind my house.
I'll watch the wind pick up the sand
and whip it through the air like dry snow.
I'll listen to waves of traffic a thousand yards away
and try to remember this week of winter
when the snow kissed my cheek.
Written at Mountain View Grand Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire during my MFA program with Southern New Hampshire University.
Jane EB Smith Jul 2015
He said you never laugh anymore since you had the baby.
I said I’m tired, I smell like soured milk, I’m lonely, I miss my friends.
He said if you don’t like your life, then change it.
I said, how, standing there with his second baby in my arms.

He said it’s been six months and you’re still fat.
Lose the baby weight or I’ll leave you.
I said I’ll lose the weight, don’t go.

The doctor said a woman of a certain
age loses the structural foundation of her *******.
Breastfeeding does that, too.
I was thirty-five.
I had fed three babies and was proud.
He watched and was disappointed.

I worked hard and was strong.
I sneered at women with fat ankles and scaly feet,
bad skin and protruding bellies.
I said, they should work harder to keep themselves up.
It’s their fault. They are lazy. They eat too much.

He said, I’m tired of living with sick and crazy people
and ran away from home.
I was tired, too, but my sons were crazy and sick,
and I couldn’t run away.

He sold my home
took my work,  and my garden, and
left me responsible for the ones he ran away from.

He took the future I thought I was building--
grandmother and granddaddy,
family dinners,
quiet nights.

I am become the women I sneered at,
round, lazy, and disrespected.
I say I know now that they were young once,
that their skin was clear, and their bellies flat.
I say, don’t think that how I look is who I am.
I am smart. I am kind.
I understand. I lead.
I listen. I laugh.
I write. I read. I explain.
I learn. I teach.
I know.

Who I am is not how I look.
A first draft.
Jane EB Smith Jan 2015
I miss the sound of his voice,
the low timbre, the quiet growl
spoken softly into the phone,
into my ear,
that puff of breath
that tickles with each hard consonant.
I miss the heat from his skin
through the fabric of his shirt when he held me close.
I understand, now, the songs which croon
of one last time,
of once before you go.
I wasn’t offered that last kiss.
that last lingering mix of warmth and salt,
of pleasure and tears
that says goodbye.
Jane EB Smith Jun 2014
Oh, God, the longing I feel
for those misty mountains,
cold in the morning light,
dripping from the midnight's rain.
I long for the tree-shaded darkness
against mid-day sun,
for wet, warm hours.
I feel the calling, the drawing home
across the sea,
to a time before,
a place known only
in soul's memory.
Jane EB Smith Apr 2014
I don't know if I’m good enough.

Oh, I can string the words
like silvery, satin, wild-caught pearls
along a silken line...
I can foment strong, heavy words
like boots that march in ****** mud
or hot, shivering sand.
I can sling words like silent razors
slicing swift and clean.
But every day...
every day when the word count rises
when writing’s the thing and not the play,
when words must stick together in factory formation
to add up, to bring forth, to produce...
maybe I’m not good enough for that.
considering MFA
Jane EB Smith Sep 2013
I want to see Jesus.
Not the storybook one in the white robes with the blue eyes,
the dark-eyed Jesus, brown-skinned and stained.
I want to see Jesus the man who was God
the man whose feet were *****
whose sweat dripped as he sawed the wood with Joseph,
whose hair fell into his eyes as he bent over his work.
I want to see Jesus whose lean back was muscled from years of hard labor
whose hands were rough from handling raw timber,
who could have fought the soldiers and won because he was fit and able
but who didn't because that wasn't the plan.
I want to see Jesus strong, respected by men, honest and capable,
used to negotiating prices, smiling and confident.
I want to see Jesus the man who loved his mother
and followed her instructions even when he would have preferred not to.
I want to see Jesus the man who was God
when he walked through the crowds who loved him,
disappeared from those who would harm him
and strode across the water as though it were land.
I want to see Jesus the man
who gave up his healthy, well-liked, successful life
to become the savior of the world.
I know God--
invincible, maker of heaven and earth, almighty, omnipotent, omniscient, always with us.
I want to know Jesus
who came to earth
just because he loved me.
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