coffee table

ashes, roaches, tweezers, matches

our hands a foot apart

not touching until

you pass the heavy book of

Picasso paintings

tapping the cover telling me

without telling me

the days grow shorter

a candle burns slowly

security in its perch

atop the bottle of cheap wine

(a pair of feline eyes stare

through the glass top sharing

perfect secrets knowing what is real)

"who believes in love anymore?" you

say, a provocation? an invitation? 

"maybe," i reply, "maybe!"

if it is you

who is of

love and secrets perfected by scars


you feel untouchable heavier than

this table carrying

questions that burn, that smoke

that penetrate us, but


i'm alive enough to know i'm 

near you

not near enough to you to

know i'm alive

douglas brent smith

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No One Expected Moses

  No One Expected Moses -- collage by douglas brent smith 4 August 1983