--IT STARTED WITH A WHISPER
I just finished Bud Smith’s fantastic poetry collection, “Everything Neon.” In many ways, the poems feel like love letters the reader has found stashed in a shoe box in someone else’s closet. Both tender and wise, Smith’s pieces are rendered with the kind of confidence that comes from a writer whose heart is laid bare on his sleeve, nothing to hide, nothing left to loose. No matter the length, each poem is wrought with vitality and tenderness and an acute awareness that the moments in between the bigger moments are often the ones that matter most.
In “I Kiss My Wife” Smith writes:
We’re just one window
of a thousand windows
on a shared riot.
The collection allows us to scour through the author’s heart and soul by whatever means we might choose, and in doing so we discover joy, wide-eyed boyish wonder, and romance in experiences that we might otherwise overlook or even find trite.
Through Smith’s lens, we journey down city streets replete with fire escapes, fire alarms blaring, bored policemen, ambulances streaking by, bridges sagging under the weight of neglect, taxis, and an ever lurking moon.
Littered among longer piece are potent gems like “Youth”:
When we were little
our mutual dream
was to slam dunk
so hard we’d shatter
the glass backboard
that was it
our whole dream
here we are.
Some poems, such as “May 4th”—about the author’s marriage in a movie theater where he’s written his vows on a parking ticket-- are so goddamn sweet and romantic they make you smile inside, even while being envious.
“Everything Neon” is riddled with wise observations and clever lines such as this from “Dead”:
Life is a weird rumor
somebody started somewhere.
Other times we are put on notice, as in the cleverly titled “We Collect Skulls”:
most of our heroes get shot in the head.
Finding poetry this honest and vulnerable, while also being entirely accessible, is a rare thing these days where most poets rely on gimmicks or word play strung together without any sense of cohesion, let alone any kind of narrative arc. Smith’s poetry is like an urban take on what Raymond Carver might have written, spare yet lush, brimming with answers about what it means to be clear-eyed and alert while everything around us spins, entangled.
Reading “Everything Neon” makes one want to fall in love, or in the very least take a new look at the world we experience and flush it full of bright light.
You can your copy here: