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Poetry

Striving

When the kitchen table becomes a confessional and the combat with demons in the heart hears conversation turn toward tired despair, How many more years, Lord?; I’ve tried to overcome, my spirit scrambles to defend motivation by considering itself a hero from Homer, say god-armored Achilles, some mother’s son once immersed in immortal streams who might famously vanquish the mightiest foes with a blade whetted true upon the Word and protected by a shield of faith, but then I remember…
Nathaniel Schmidt
September 1, 2018
Poetry

The Active Voice

After Camille Pissarro’s Haymaking at Éragny   Pissarro clumped, sculpted, plowed his oil paints to produce this hayfield: fertile pigments mixed, molded, together like squelching mud to cultivate such an agrarian landscape sown with greens, blues, yellows, browns; his passion raising pregnant berms with color on this canvas. Here, between trees, a breeze combs through wheat-sheaves where a woman works a pitchfork in the grasses, ordering, processing, a year’s plenty beside fellow peasants, harvesting what’s needed for unseen hungry mouths…
Nathaniel Schmidt
September 1, 2018
Poetry

Transcription

Let us romanticize a monk, hunched-over, candle-lit, a sackcloth habit snuggled close to repel the winds besieging his abbey, medieval, dark, his stylus tracing pregnant sounds, presumably Latin, though perhaps Greek, Hebrew, some proto-dialect, or the heathen’s vocabulary in their stories he loves, Grendel, demonic, of the line of Cain, one tale redeemed by the one he believes which questions if Unferth, kith-killer, is beast or man. This ink stands opposite the page, black versus white, and yet our grey-cells…
Nathaniel Schmidt
October 31, 2015
Poetry

Profession

After Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, still will I trust Him,” seems a rhetorical boast, easily made, for who can comprehend this claim’s worth when even at funerals, death remains abstract? Yes, a tangible corpse lies stiff, dressed, and prone in a woodcrafter’s pride, next hoisted by dove-feigning fingers in soft cotton gloves onto broad shoulders, who then carry this cross out to the hearse, to the church, to the earth, where, seed-like, it is planted, expecting a glorious…
Nathaniel Schmidt
October 31, 2015
Poetry

Romantics

He loosens his work-tie’s noose-knot, ascending a staircase climbing above our grey earth, fallen leaves clotting gutters in the car-park where a divorced neighbor, half-lifed, drags on a cigarette, smoldering time until her bed-mate’s pickup returns, a faded T-shirt her smock, her hair a mess like a nest. Exhausted, Ulysses stumbles into his haven, a two-room apartment, having passed by the taupe vestibule’s Charybdis, its mailbox, filled with bills starving for their pounds of flesh, to behold as he does…
Nathaniel Schmidt
October 30, 2014
Poetry

What Is Man that Thou Art Mindful of Him

What do we mean when we say children are God’s artistry as preachers are wont to do during baptisms, deleting from their homilies words like “daughter” and “girl” as they exhort their faithful not to deface her beauty? Her cries, while precious, necessary, compelling her mother from tranquil acceptance to energized aid in the nursery, are hardly melodic like deft little fingers dropped by a pianist on his Steinway, the right hand aware of what the left, separate, is doing,…
Nathaniel Schmidt
October 30, 2014