The sun dissolves throughthe window. Three weeksin my condo—only textsor dog walks, the grocerystore quickly with my head down—grief still lines the aisles in uniform boxes. No people, personto come home to, to bring me foodbecause he doesn't want me to be hungry. Nobody to drive meto a simple procedure if I need a simple procedure. For a moment I feel like something goodmight happen, like when I was young in a humid city trying on tight shirtswith my shoulders back, thinking I,too, could have a story. I'll spendthe night cleaning the kitchen, wipingcrumbs to the floor, sweeping,opening something else I boughtthat I'll only look at once. A bodyuntouched is still a bodyI used to believe. Nothing of anythingwill ever be enough. My motheris dead. I wasted so much time.Why is this so hard to say?
“Stupid Beauty” from STOP LYING: by Aaron Smith.
Published by University of Pittsburgh Press on January 31, 2023.
Copyright © 2023 by Aaron Smith.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Aaron Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Primer, Appetite, and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and Best American Poetry. A three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, he is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Mass Cultural Council. He is associate professor of creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Aaron Smith’s fifth collection is a beautiful slow dance between humor and despair that the whole school gathers around to watch. Smith excavates tenderness as familial memories are revisited, revised, and rendered new. Stop Lying centers the illness and death of the poet’s mother and manages to perfect that odd and ancient kinship between grief, desire, humor, and loss. The voice in these poems pulls you in close by the collar and refuses to let you go."
"At the center of these poems is the death of the poet’s mother as he confronts his fundamentalist Christian childhood. With unflinching honesty, Aaron Smith flips the narrative of queer acceptance, implicating himself in his family’s contract of lies in which his identity as a gay man was barely discussed and mostly lied about. What is survival left unsaid? Writing at the blistering edge, Smith asks all of us, by asking himself, to stop lying."