The speed of smoke
Like the stiffness in my bones
after autumn’s first freeze
I buried both of the wristwatches
that were given to me as ceremonial gifts
for a birthday and a graduation
I can’t remember from whom
This is just what we do underground—
entropy in a box or a childproof bottle
Take one every night and call me when it’s empty
The speed of frost
And only brick chimneys survive
Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Editor’s Notes: The staggered lines, breaking them as shown, slows the poem down, but shows both randomness and structure (also captured by the content). The title is simple and ethereal and serves the poem well. The symmetrical structure is appealing and has a surreal feel. Note that when matter passes directly from solid to vapor, it’s called sublimation. The single line in the middle even suggests that thoughts sublimate. Smoke is disordered, frost is highly ordered. These two are wonderfully juxtaposed in the poem, and in the combined image of smoke and crystal of frost ice.