Lookout by Randy Smith

Such pellagra of psyche
her bequest to me. Visions visited her,
and voices too.

Mom heard. Saved scores
of people from death, dismemberment,
by seeing

accidents in her head
and laying it all at the feet of the good Lord.
Crazy was our norm.

Of course, various
people tried to kill her too—jammed
car exhaust,

knives, guns,
potions, poisons, wicked spells, gardenia
smells. A regular

Who’s Who
of human greed, betrayal, voodoo, vice.
Being her child

a complex pain—
her moods a multi-dimensional, but

Cartesian plane.
Look out. Always on the look-
out for her

moods. In 1942,
she spotted for the Aircraft Warning
Service. Eyes,

Aloft!—their motto.
Sometimes, I, lone and loft too,
imagine her—

poor, thin,
tense, alert in a pitch-black, clod-struck
South Georgia

pencil, log, and federal-issue silhouette

in hand.
She is meticulous, keen, clear-headed,

biding time
for the inexorable enemy to come.
They also serve

who only stand
in the middle of nothing but plenteous dirt
and wait.

Randy Smith founded and directs the BFA program in creative writing at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. Program alum, Angie Thomas (2011), was nominated for the 2017 National Book Award for her debut novel, The Hate U Give, a project she started as her senior creative thesis at Belhaven. Randy has published poetry previously in Ruminate, Rock & Sling, and The Best of Sandhills. Six of his poems are included in the anthology Open Hands: The Tupelo Press 30/30 Project: February 2016 (Tupelo Press, 2017).