top of page

It’s Time to Come up With New Names for Things

by Paul Smith

I walked out to the edge of the city/
because I read once/
about walking and walking till you were finally far enough away/
to measure the city and see it for what it is/
but I walked and found that/
the city had no boundary/
maybe that only exists in poetry/
though the big buildings and factories stopped/
the sprawl went on, it crawled and spalled/
into crumminess/
where people seemed happy nonetheless/
maybe we need to redefine/
where we draw the line/
between what is city and what isn’t/
or whether we need to draw a line at all/
I wanted to end the war right now/
to end this catastrophe/
and was informed by a third party by way of a committee/
the war had ended long ago/
what we have now is a civil action, an internecine struggle/
a challenge for democracy/
because there are those/
who want to thwart our liberty/
long words log-jammed/
as far as my eyes could see/
our definition of war was outdated/
and, technically speaking, compared to what could have happened otherwise
these present consequences are overstated/
we must re-define what we once thought/
but is this a war? Yes, it’s not/
I thought that I’d stopped loving you/
yes, I’ve thought about leaving you/
and have considered the inconvenience/
of this:/
that you’re a shrew/
life is war with you/
don’t get sore/
because if you’re a mouse-like mammal with a long-nosed snout
than I am a jellyfish without/
a spine, that goes wandering about/

creating excuses, making up lies/
about how swell life is with you/
so let’s expand our definition of love/
here and today are the things it’s made of:/
warmth, affection, tolerance, ambivalence/
compromise and alibis/
capitulation, hypocrisy, resignation, antipathy/
sleeping in another room when your snoring is too much for me/
we’ve got enough between us to write a book/
if we took that tome and balanced on it here/

one thing would be very clear/
that from where we stand/
we can see the city, my dear


Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.


bottom of page