The Poetry Project

Wild Peach by S*an D. Henry-Smith

Reviews by Justin Phillip Reed and Jayson P. Smith

Selected Notes to S*an D. Henry-Smith's Wild Peach

by Justin Phillip Reed

78 Seeing Taylor [Johnson] align with cypress knees corrects my neck 
immediately. They’re (their) very root and centrifuge for earth, air, water, and light. This beholding beloves as I do, and I feel fucked with—somewhat in the question did I capture this myself? and am the camera coming round to sentient achievement; but more in the sense of endorsement: fuckwithdom as kindred receiving, not just “I see you” but “I see how you see.”

And everything in the aftermath of hurricanes, everything in the aftermath of people set unnaturally adrift in water. 44 there are evils I know, & then I learn of others.120-121 Remember Wolff, in “The Death of the Moth,” thrice takes up the pencil, considers assistance, spends that energy to lament, “It was useless to try to do anything…One’s sympathies, of course, were all on the side of life.” Anterior to a butterfly’s windowsill ruin, S*an—succinct, tender, multi thoracic—bites back, bright as pineapple:

you’ll wither alone w/ that attitude, w/ your inability to live for anyone, w/ anyone. you’ll never know home. a fog consumes the halls, my final silences —whisper my gushing resentment… 

13 To describe the scent of marsh in the sudden morning, under the body of what we call “fog”: I’ve / I’m forgotten, but S*an can transmit it visually, has the range, has a s*an’s s*an and s*ans the topography. Slick blades my feet carried like rascal scallions. Rem(a)ind(er)s me: much of my life in the South I spent in soup. 21 I am the earthworm. 27, 29 What is privacy for larvae? Detritus is a subjective fiction. The artist lives in this, dreams in public, and therefore must thrash and shit-talk madly. After midnight, Dawn texts a link with the word “Withness,” and before that I was thinking “I’m glad for these poems that ungag the H.” I ache for the media of friends in a kitchen.

22 hidden in milkweed to spy on your father: if you won’t talk about my daddy in dactyls like this, then we don’t have to play together. 18 hissing hyssop whistling willow sleeping under sun again: That’s right. I like knowing why a pulse magnetizes. Muscle isolation. Two-fingered picking, fuck a pick. We must most especially make rhythms not all us ride to. I need “I Love I Jah” as well as “Don’t Need It.” 94 recognition in the garble, protective in its purpose. It was “inscrutable.” Sike, it was “simply outstanding.” 129, 130 Somewhere between Harryette (a unicorn beyond my Minotaur) and Kurt (albino mosquito), Uzi Vert like a perfect storm in the anaphora. Alright alright alright. I’m affirmed by ten aphid-eating beetles on a  windowpane—the best of luck. 21 Anything can happen at the night show. 

15 All text is the text, too. Pages don’t become sacred after they were living meat. What ethos have we, re: S*an’s “body of work,” if we haven’t eaten from their hands? Mornings I make a bowl of nut butter, fruit, and pinch of salt like I watched them once. They get to speak to me this way. it is nice to sweat it reminds me that I am open whether I like it or not the conditions will decide. 93 talk to me talk through me: Sing in me, M*se, and through me tell the story / how what happens to me happens across me and also goes down, continually. To exist porous as a tree frog and make that racket when night falls. This is a manual, instructive and a little embarrassing because it knows I know better than what I been being: institutional, inside, not in the thistle enough, not wiping more juice from my jaw with the wrist skin, salt from my eyebrow still that same old beach. A book that nose I came in fake and offers a plate anyway. What do y’all expect a review to sell instead? 17Hell did they just say? Is my life in synonymy with money? If I have to ask then you should, too.

I will translate at my convenience: notes on Wild Peach

by Jayson P. Smith


[because intimacy means I write to you, first.] 

[Please name the thing as is if you can. reflect honestly or not at all (16), & i think the thing is time: carefully and considerably spent, amidst and in spite of. Dionne said, “so many dreams of course were full of prisons.” I’m constantly dragged by the thought of what occupies my hands. how often calls from my mother go unanswered. how many ways we return to water: Tavish washing his face, the Atlantic—it is nice to sweat it reminds me that i am open as I cry, silently. What [of the hold] stops us from embracing each other this way, daily? Talk to me talk through me when correspondence isn’t enough.] 

What people see in my pictures comes from the fact that I care very much about these subjects, and know the environment, the surroundings, and the lifestyle because it’s my life. - Tina Barney

[In New Orleans, S*an makes us breakfast. Renders us against impossible light. Reminds me this work is an occasion to treat each other differently. New York, & I trust you with the site of me as a helicopter passes by for the third time this morning. A slow hour, realized as listening for the birds beyond blades. I’m trying to say something about these sounds encouraging resound: a somatic reverberation; a quickening; an embodied elsewhere. A challenge: say lost among the ecru enamel. Feel less than luxurious as fuck. Sleep with the dictionary if you’re gagging; S*an did. Who knew they talk shit like your grandma and laugh like mine?] 

[Because this book is about life. & breath & ir/reverence & insistence & insolence & consumption & care & care & care & care. What does it mean when you mean to use everything? To chew as fervently as you pray? Address the actions with the same name? Justin, I want someone to find us in the after skin of chat and revenge making friends with trees, gesturing to our dead. Joking about my late-in-life conversion to grits, simply because someone loved me enough to watch me change. To facilitate, even.] 

& reader, I’m here with you, now. Know the open secret of Wild Peach is its insistence—in tending to what lives around and within and among. Bright, impertinent as praxis, the depths of disinterest here signifying a focus there. Fathomless as the grass when the referent is itself. If you just came to behold, you’re doing it wrong. Not to prioritize the body, but the candor. Be about it. I know you heard them. Allow the grace of your open palms. Touch something and know love. S*an offers us a language that will reach us in the world—embodied, living, and reflective—long before we reach the book. Kelly [Price] told us, “There’s something that you must know...count it on joy. Morning will come.” Thank you, S*an, for having the audacity to wait for the first light. For telling us what it feels like on our faces.

#262 — Fall 2020