Roy Herndon Smith


Readers, lend me your
minds; I come to praise clutter,
not to bury it,

forgotten, not gone,
in a landfill, a mountain
rising there, outside,

beyond the poorer
neighborhoods, where the stink comes
sweeping down the streets.

Here, at a distance,
in the more comfortable
confines, we cease from

smelling, for fear of
smelling the wrong thing, the whiff
of denied decay.


Clutter’s the presence
of absences collecting
in heaps like dead leaves,

memories we can
jump and fall into, lie, sleep,
dream, and wake up in,

past matters crumbling
into the chaos we come
from and return to,

detritus we sift
through, separating rocks and
junk from fragrant soil.


Metaphors like leaves
clutter the straight and narrow
way that’s not the slant

of the actual
planes falling together in
a heap of a home—

the connotations:
crashes ending purposive
journeys to somewhere

else; home’s where the wild
clutter of indirection
makes space for living,

decline, and dying,
held in the womb of chaos
circling into love.