Read the introduction, "The Horse Is Always Running" by Monica Sok.


My Yellow-Haired Mother Did Not Come Home


for Venus Xtravaganza

sometimes it doesn’t need
to be interior—certain years
remain caged by expectation

while yet another woman finds
time for a manicure. the work

that won’t cease is pretending

it happened. I feel. a missed
element of allure unfurled,
eclipsed only by laments. when

the fire became archival, everything about
order was delicious. this is important
to a narrative. I want most to be naked

& luxuriously life-like, maybe arrogant.
exact like a man with a feeling. I am
fortunate enough to make for great

television: my moral fiber

reads as less than
ambitious. I have to please
the devil, somehow.




They Look Like Wings If You Squint Hard Enough


considering Deana Lawson’s As Above, So Below

no one asks what I mean when I say the word nation. budged
out of a metaphorical paint, counting steps away from
surveillance. anarchy isn’t without its notions of ascent.

neither is anxiety. the more precise matter of heads
lopped off before new crowns. a considered decency
in smaller circles. I’ve learned exuberance

is one way to sell a sorrow. the other is to give the poem
what I do in the dark. ravenous with decision & revisionist
by nature. to what degree do I become—of suffering

or otherwise. to what is ambition owed. the lyric
remains the lyric whether or not you’re saying
anything & in this way I’ve been lucky. if a motherfucker

dares to take the flash off, send the fucks upriver
& splatter the facade clean we’d see: a politic
or pig, on a canvas (or a cutting board or

charcuterie, agape from a gaze)—a form
lost to a focal point, somehow bracketed by
solace. if I remain, what.




Sometimes It Stands Like A Mother


after Lorna Simpson’s Gestures / Re-enactments

anger is an optional risk
when it comes down to it.
tucked away in my undone logic
is a serious question of order—
of course i’m referring to a closed
fist. excuse me. I am often struck
dumb with the purpose
of metaphor. imagination
has yet to resolve the futility in naming:
incentive for a body
to do & do until it doesn’t.
they’ll say, it was simply
a gesture to what I wanted.
that one hand on a hip suggests
joy—I was enigmatic, at least
for the camera. look, how I
justified rage with attendant
beauty. I have no capacity
for genius. just hyphenate
longings. an undefined
revulsion. whatever invades me
ripening, its singular



Jayson P. Smith is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Originally from the Bronx, Jayson lives/works in Brooklyn as founder of NOMAD, a Crown-Heights based performance series.