Tracy K. Smith, “Poem in Which Nobody Says ‘I Told You So'”

The point is, you won’t necessarily know
Whether you’re living in a science fiction reality.
Just as you won’t learn until after the final episode
Whether the captain meant all he said about aviation
And his wife. And what were you doing, anyway,
In that chamber? Signs everywhere whispered Caution.
In the past, horses were the chief vehicle

Of man’s dream of escape. Then the locomotive.
Now we can lose ourselves in six dimensions.
I plead the Fifth. Lust is real. Love
Is a momentary lapse of treason. Technology
Means there is no such thing as persistence
Of vision. The West was never won.
You were never the one in the many.
But, oh, the many…

From Duende, the second collection of poems from Tracy K. Smith. You can listen to Smith read from the title poem at the Academy of American poets website, and Verse Daily has published the poems “El Mar,” “Western Fragment,” and “Nocturne: Andalusian Dog.”

“For me,” Smith told an interviewer from Nidus, “poetry is really just about trying to inhabit the world a little more fully. And I don’t know if there’s any other way to do that than to assume that there are large and unavoidable and unknowable elements of the world all around us, and that we’re inside of them and the only thing that we can really do is describe those small pieces and know the gaps in those descriptions point to bigger, sometimes truer, observations.”

23 June 2007 | poetry |