KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poem: 194 words [R]

The River

by Charlie Smith
I was supposed to fly down to see my brother,
but I got sidetracked by some girls
and was two days late. The place was shut up
and my brother was gone to the river to be
with the mangroves & the knobby-headed egrets.
Down there the sun is so bright you can tell
that time will have no trouble with any of us.
I looked for a key to the house, but couldn’t
find it and went to see a broker who tried to
sell me the patch of woods we played in as boys.
I didn’t want the woods that were monstrous
and filled with demons and the vapors of rot.
He wanted me to drink with him but I wouldn’t.
I have to find my brother, I said and he laughed
and said, You have no brother, and I didn’t
know what he meant, but I do now. I have
started for the river so many times, but some-
thing always comes up and I turn aside like
one who hears a band playing. Love is the key
to my brother’s house, but he is gone to the river.

— From Smith’s latest collection, Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems
(W. W. Norton & Company, 2014); reprinted by author’s permission

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