Cleveland, Mississippi

by | Jul 26, 2013 | Poetry


Mosquitoes need it wet, that’s true,

but the problem’s less a problem since

the cotton fields gave way to rice, and rice

likes water on the move, not pools of it

that only flatten further this flat land

(so a kind man said to me our first summer here,

who seemed to know), which means

the snapshot in your mind must change,

like everything, like even these fields

that once were jungles before Percy

and his children grew their gardens

on the backs of slaves and immigrants.


I’m 15 miles from the river, but get

to see it only when it’s down and looks

like nothing to write you about until

I saw I stood on its bed of rocks

shaped by water into clumsy figurines.

I don’t buy it, by the way,

about the bugs. I’m still here

though, so what do I know?








Photo by Josh*m

About The Author

Mike Smith

Mike Smith is the author of two books of poems, Byron in Baghdad and Multiverse (BlazeVOX Books) and a translation of Goethe’s Faust: A Tragedy (Shearsman Books). He is currently an Associate Professor at Delta State University.