At the Bottom of the Well| T.J. Smith

15 Aug

(Artwork by Carrion House)



I scrape a chewed-up moon from the sky with my thumb-nail

It lodges there

And if I could still maintain any sort of defense I might be worried

About infection

There isn’t much else to say after living

Is there

The water makes quick work of paraffin arms and families

Of stinging insects

Wheedle their way into the space beneath my pried-back nails

For a moment

The egg sacs catch the lack of light like thirty-seven hard white eyes

And all of me is seeing now

The thick mold wet against the cold brick walls unfolds to splendor

A dragonfly traces

Tired circles somewhere far above my opened skull

A child cannot find his lucky coin

And throws instead a plastic watch it’s chirping and his voice seems far

Without moonlight

I see only the throwing arm behind my back

And that’s enough

My eyes burst into hordes of forward moving streamers

Yawning mouths

They move through me like blood and everywhere they pass they mark

My receptive skin

Their language is substantial their poetry brief and full of truth

You cannot be alone

They write where the world ends

Here is the world

You’ll feed it even as you decompose I want to add

I know

It’s not my place

Come down here and you’ll see it for yourself

And underneath those hungry lines

A face







T.J. Smith is a poet and educator based in New York. Originally from Jacksonville, FL, he studied German and Creative Writing at Princeton, and he’s currently completing an MFA at NYU, where he’s also the Web Editor of Washington Square Review. Recently, his work has appeared in Stoneboat, Raven Chronicles, and Ilanot Review, among others. He can be reached at

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