J.D. Smith—Featured Poet


Calling Card

I’m J.D. Smith
With rhyme and pith.

In the monomyth
I took up the call to adventure
And stuck to it like Poligrip on a denture.

Give me no lip.
I sailed the ship
And came home with a trophy
For which I paid no fee.
Crews want to row me.
Kings want to know me.
The State of Missouri is dying to show me
And not the other way around.

I hold my ground.
My lines astound.
I got around
To memorizing Roget’s thesaurus,
Then all of Horace.
That is why
I’m the triple crust of the highest pie,
The Sixth Guy,
The twelfth herb and spice,
The upcoming upgrade to your hand-held device.

I’m reading Rumi.
I grill halloumi.
Don’t like it? Sue me.

So at this stage
I’ll rock the page—
Or the screen, depending
How you consume the content that I’m sending—
Like Bruce Lee or Sonny Chiba in a rage.

Now hold on tight.
The words I write
Will amaze, amuse and transport you.
You will be changed but I’ll never, ever short you.
My word is bond, I wield the wand
Of versification in many a nation.
Your esthetic sense, like theirs, will soon respond.

You know what I mean—
To say more would be a sin.
The light is turning green,
Let the party begin.

Beginning with Famous Lines

Come live with me and be my love.
Or is commitment what you’re frightened of?

They also serve who only stand and wait.
To be in line behind them is my fate.

Where ignorant armies clash by night
The brothels will make out all right.

Drink to me only with thine eyes.
Thereafter I’ll address your thighs.

Batter my heart, three person’d God,
And fry it up like so much cod.

My love is like a red, red rose
That hates to hear me blow my nose.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Take out the trash. Bring back some Miller Lite.

Catalogs for Food Lovers

Harry and David

There’s no dispute—
They sell great fruit.
But at that price
Who buys it twice?


They put me on their mailing list
Unasked, but how can I resist?
To think that all these years I’ve missed
Announcements of the latest box
Of bagels, coffee, Nova lox,
Knishes and the Reuben kit
That I am tempted not to split—
The same for slowly cured pastrami
Awash in pepper and umami.
Their babkas and assorted roes,
Their madeleines (remember those?)
Will fuel my rise to higher station
Such as a byline in The Nation.

Hickory Farms

It starts with meat and ends with meat,
With more meat in the middle.
(The pleasures offered on each page
Are not those of a riddle.)

There’s meat for holidays and gifts,
There’s meat for many reasons:
A summer sausage big enough
To last for several seasons

And sausages of lesser heft—
Some now are made of turkey—
Along with packages of plain
And teriyaki jerky.

Salamis in bouquets and flights
Include both dry and truffle,
Such as will make you understand
What made the trained pig snuffle.

This feat of meat, replete with meat,
Is fortified by cheese
As gouda, cheddar, jack complete
The fat and protein tease.

Beef Wellingtons of hors d’oeuvre size
Serve less-committed snackers,
In league with sweet and salty nuts
And Golden Toasted Crackers.

You can find several kinds of fruit
To help you fight off scurvy,
But if you live on their prime stock
You’ll end up mighty curvy.

Omaha Steaks

I’d bet my reputation as a host
On any given T-bone, chop or roast

This company purveys for our consumption
And gladly make a similar assumption

Regarding racks of ribs, short, prime and spare,
Filet mignon in packs of six to share

(And savor all the flavor they would render,
As would their stock of loins, both sir and tender),

Curated bacon, porterhouses, shanks
To make the lowest ingrate offer thanks,

And on the basis of strong reputation
Assorted poultry for my degustation.

Corn-finished or grass-fed, the fleshly yield
Of prairie, pasture, barnyard, feed lot, field

Shown and described, instills in me a sense
Of total, tantalizing confidence.

But with a sense of wonder nearing awe
I wonder how, in Greater Omaha,

Somebody manages to raise—or rustles—
A large supply of lobster, scallops, mussels,

Among the other nibbles bound by shell,
And swimmers of the open sea as well

Like snapper, haddock, halibut and cod.
It cannot be just me who finds it odd

That, on the high and lonely plains, a wrangler
Now undertakes the work of net and angler.

What do we call such inland fisher folk?
Shrimp-herder, sole-boy, trout- or tuna-poke?

And what exactly are such people doing?
Might it be something we will soon be ruing

Or something we already should be fearing?
What marvel of genetic engineering

Extends to mahi mahi on dry land?
I’m not sure that I want to understand

What leads to distribution, wondrous strange,
Of salmon, clams and sea bass from the range.

Eulogy, Revised

I think this is the final text.
I’ve got nothing, friends. Who’s next?


To count one’s daily steps is all the rage.
So, too, a tiger paces in its cage.

Memo for Two Masters

To: Dante, Petrarch
Re: Beatrice, Laura

Don’t think that I’m not grateful for
The heights they led you to,
But weren’t they, when you stop to think,
A little young for you?

At the Oasis

Two female palms discuss a wayward male
That one of them had loved, to no avail.
“I think that we are dating—then he quits.
He wanted just a frond with benefits.”

A Description of the Morning, Washington, DC

January 2019

after Jonathan Swift

A Spanish-speaking legion kneads and bakes.
A partner’s billing hours before he wakes.
The Post or Times, hurled almost with finesse,
Lands somewhere near a reader’s home address.
As if to burden were to educate,
Schoolchildren sag beneath their backpacks’ weight.
Hired picketers stand fast on lowly ground
For union members nowhere to be found
While trash cans overflowing on the Mall
Are somehow helping build a border wall.
Loud hip hop fills a Metro car’s dank air
For passengers who did not ask to share
But don’t approach the pair of bobbing teens,
Instead remaining bowed above their screens.
A graying, suited man speeds up his scooter
As if he were the sidewalk’s sole commuter.
A beer truck idles at its drop-off point,
And line cooks huddle for the day’s first joint.

J.D. Smith‘s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016 and reviewed in Light. He is currently seeking publishers for two collections of poetry, one of them light verse, and two collections of fiction. Smith works in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife, Paula Van Lare, and their rescue animals Roo, Pantera, and Mr. Clean. More information is available at www.jdsmithwriter.com.