In Smith Blue, Camille T. Dungy offers a survival guide for the modern heart as she takes on twenty-first-century questions of love, loss, and nature. From a myriad of lenses, these poems examine the human capability for perseverance in the wake of heartbreak; the loss of beloved heroes and landscapes; and our determination in the face of everyday struggles. Dungy explores the dual nature of our presence on the planet, juxtaposing the devastation caused by human habitation with our own vulnerability to the capricious whims of our environment. In doing so, she reveals with fury and tenderness the countless ways in which we both create and are victims of catastrophe.
This searing collection delves into the most intimate transformations wrought by our ever-shifting personal, cultural, and physical terrains, each fraught with both disillusionment and hope. In the end, Dungy demonstrates how we are all intertwined, regardless of race or species, living and loving as best we are able in the shadows of both man-made and natural follies.
FlightIt is the day after the leaves, when buckeyes,like a thousand thousand pendulums, clock trees,and squirrels, fat in their winter fur, chuckle hours,chortle days. It is the time for the parting of our ways. You slid into the summer of my sleeping, creptinto my lonely hours, ate the music of my dreams.You filled yourself with the treated sweet I offered,then shut your rolling eyes and stole my sleep. Came morning and me awake. Came morning.Awake, I walked twelve miles to the six-gun shop.On the way there I saw a bird-of-prayer all furled up by the river.I called to it. It would not unfold. On the way home I killed it. It is the time of the waking cold, when buckeyes,like a thousand thousand metronomes, tock time,and you, fat on my summer sleep, titter toward me,walk away. It is the time for the parting of our days.
About the Author
Camille T. Dungy is the author of What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison and Suck on the Marrow. She is editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and co-editor of the From the Fishouse anthology. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals and magazines, including The American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, and Poetry Daily. She teaches at San Francisco State University.
"Exquisite moments of intimacy caught in the meshes of history, of human depredation registered in language as plainspoken as it is rich in implication, Smith Blue by Camille Dungy is a gorgeous and powerful book, one of the best I've read in recent years."-Alan Shapiro, author of Old War
"These are large, open-hearted lyrics about love: its pleasure, its neglect, loss and remembrance. Love here is not just parental and fraternal or of lovers and husbands, but a love for butterflies, things and their places. With a subtle variety yet balance of line, these are not ponderous pronouncements, but the voice of a graceful wondering about the world and the way we carry on."-Ed Roberson, author of City Eclogue
"Loss inhabits these poems-palpable, less spiritual than common though no less devastating, spoken by one not afraid 'to hear what quiet really sounds like.' And what has been lost?- lovers, landscapes, poets, none replaceable with the easy distractions of iPods or NPR. What remains? Words. Lyrically adept yet coolly self-conscious, these poems engage loss to 'recall / how we smelled before this end was begun.'"-Michael Waters, author of Darling Vulgarity, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize