Ian C. Smith

Three Poems

At the salt-rimmed coast


Young men shout for a red bikini
languid under a blue umbrella.
A dog barks, lunges at a football
bobbing out of reach on modest waves
which rush into the hot embrace
of yellow sand, & far out,
painted against the convergence of blue,
a white yacht points toward the estuary,
the sun draining golden out of the sky.


Now those football shouts haunt the airwaves.
Expired froth gums the tideline.
There is no yacht, the sun is defeated,
flinging out pink streaks, gesturing for help.
Ignored, waves just go through the motions.
Gulls skim the estuary’s mud cracks
like skateboarders in cool disguise,
feathers shot by the sandsplit wind.
The shore is littered with departure.

Cinematic Overdose

Sleeping in, never seeing the sun rise
After sitting out the late nights of my youth
Ruining my sight in the steep end of seats
Swashing my buckle in imaginary feats
An acolyte lover learning to be couth
A gangster or priest or master of disguise.

Bogart, world-weary on the tarmac as Rick
Jane Wyman speechless as Johnny Belinda
Nazi cities bombarded into rubble
Bill Holden drifted into town and trouble
While Brando, who could have been a contender
Found Steiger’s corrupt waterfront no picnic.

Screenwriters suffered McCarthy’s embargo
As Newman hitchhiked through a long hot summer
His wife, Joanne, made up three different faces
Gable enjoyed Monroe’s misfit embraces
Hitchcock cued Janet Leigh’s screams for a plumber
And Julie Christie pleased Dr Zhivago.

Now I am as lost in my celluloid past
As that astronaut Kubrick stranded in space
Woody Allenesque, prompting bemused glances
Walter Mitty dreaming, missing my chances
Stumbling in the light of day, I know my place
I would be perfect in a Jim Jarmusch cast.

Low Tide

Sentenced now, who saw so little beauty,
his time already served even from before
those tantalising forms lured him
despite a young wife, growing old now,
her love absorbing sneers & jokes,
innocence damned whichever way you look at it.

Coastal trader of this remote bay,
he guns through waves, always waves.
Fearful of sinking into his own history,
he strives to leave behind the urgency,
that same camping-ground where, long ago,
he listened for his father’s quick breath.

He has been counselled, denies nothing,
frowns across glistening water,
its secrets probed by these fishermen.
He knows the lighthouse is out there.
He will never leave his turbulent shoreline,
must ride out the howl of every storm.

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