3 Poems by Bryant Smith


White horse, red birds, and black dogs
My Aunt Betty’s favorite animals, she’d say
In a wood-paneled sitting room filled with trinkets
Each creature immortalized in painted ceramic

My Aunt Betty’s favorite animals, she’d say
As we sat sticking to the vinyl couch
Each creature immortalized in painted ceramic
Watching us while we made small talk over the blaring TV

As we sat sticking to the vinyl couch
Will this be me someday?
Watching us while we made small talk over the blaring TV
My apathetic offspring

Will this be me someday?
Talking about nothing to fill the time
My apathetic offspring
Watching the clock and eyeing the door

Talk about nothing to fill the time
In a wood-paneled sitting room covered in trinkets
My apathetic offspring:
White horses, red birds, and black dogs


My coffee table belonged to my maternal grandmother.
I got it after she died.
Everyone went after the jewelry
And neglected the wooden carved elephant.
Maybe because it was covered with a six-foot stack of National Enquirers.

Sometimes I tell myself that this table was the scene of wholesome activities:
Board games with the kids; cocktail parties with the neighbors.
I ignore what I know to be true:
My grandfather left his wife after a long affair with his hunting buddy’s twin sister.
Mawmaw got suspicious when he’d take his suit to the deer camp.

After he left, she learned to drive and got a job at TG&Y.
We still have her name tag somewhere.
“Ernie” it says.
Once a customer knocked over a display of A1 steak sauce and she had to clean it up.
Never touched the stuff again for as long as she lived.

“She shacked up with a man named Happy,” my mother recounts.
Speaking of my grandmother’s single years.
“He gave her that table.”
Maybe that’s why none of her kids wanted it.
And they went for the rocking chair instead.

Most people have sweet souvenirs from their dead loved ones:
Grandpa’s bible; Grandma’s Magnalite pots.
Keepsakes that warm the heart.
My elephant table has more value to me.
Its backstory is complicated.


Some people call them modular homes
but that makes it sound like a spaceship.
“Mobile” is even worse; that sounds like a camper.
Like the one Harold used to take deer hunting.
She never minded the word “trailer.”
A house is a house is a house, she’d say.
Call it what you will.
Her son insisted she live behind his house
in a lot that was most easily accessible from a parking lot
next to an arcade and a drive-through bank.
Harold died in ‘87; lungs finally gave out.
She swore she could still hear him sometimes
bumping around in that back bedroom
with the sewing machine and a few toys for the grandkids.
Been a while since they passed by.
She had a dish full of candied orange slices just in case.
Her company these days was the television.
Nothing wrong with the old one.
Her son bought her a fancy new one that perched atop the old.
She could watch two shows at once if she were so inclined.
Thought that might get confusing
not knowing to solve the puzzle or answer in the form of a question.
No, these days she sticks to her stories.
They start in the morning and go until late afternoon.
They sure know how to stretch a story line
That one lady was possessed by a demon for a year it seemed.
Evil twins, cat fights, shirtless men:
she did think they’d gone a little crazy
But she watched anyway.
She kept the radio in the kitchen on, too,
tuned to country radio.
the TV set muted
Mama, why don’t you turn it up?, they’d ask
She could tell what was happening just fine
by the expressions – slow, deliberate, drawn out, exaggerated-
designed to keep you tuned in
until the next episode.
But they made for good company most of the time
and helped her pass the time
sitting in the front room
looking at stories.

Bryant Smith is Associate Professor English and Spanish at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, USA. He is a lifelong learner and recently completed a graduate course in poetry. Various poems and a reflective essay resulted from this course.