Any Second Now


In stock

poems by


Mark Smith-Soto

Poetry book, 80 pages, $12 cover price

ISBN: 9781599480213

Released: 2005

This title was published as a result of finishing as a runner up in the 2005 MSR Poetry Book Award Contest.

Costa Rican-American Mark Smith-Soto is Professor of Romance Languages and Director of the Center for Creative Writing in the Arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he edits International Poetry Review. A 2005 winner of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing, his poetry has appeared in Nimrod, The Sun, Poetry East, Quarterly West, Callaloo, Literary Review, Kenyon Review and many other literary journals. The author of two award winning poetry chapbooks, his first full-length collection, Our Lives Are Rivers was published in 2003 by the University Press of Florida.


When I began reading Mark Smith-Soto’s new collection of poems, Any Second Now, I didn’t want it to end. It’s true that I had taken these poems to bed with me, hoping for solace from a bad cold, and it’s true that while reading them I forgot my misery entirely, something I could not say about many other poetry collections I’ve read lately—but the larger truth is that these poems made me want to keep reading because they do what all real poetry does, they make magic out of language. They play with words, images, emotions, everyday encounters, and in spinning their magic, they seduce and delight me. Mark Smith-Soto has given us an original voice in the midst of so much contemporary sound-alike poetry. His poems have staying power, and yes, they will stay here by my bedside for a long, long while.

Kathryn Stripling Byer
Poet Laureate of North Carolina,
author of the award-winning volumes:
Wildwood Flower and Catching Light.

I love the range of Mark Smith-Soto’s voice in these remarkable poems—earthy, passionate, funny, wry, prophetic—and the way he uses the sonnet form in all its varieties to speak of love and hope and the mystery of time and our human struggle to maintain dignity in the face of both its and our own ravages.

Tony Abbott,
author of The Man Who.

Mark Smith-Soto has an admirable touch when pinning down the pleasures of the moment, for giving minor episodes shape and form… Smith-Soto is a poet, a very good one…

Fred Chappell
Former Poet Laureate of North Carolina,
author of Backsass and Plow Naked: Selected Writings on Poetry .

Tsunami Meditation

It shoulders against the walls
of my chest, bumping like buffalo or bull,
it wants to knock out, break through,
tear down, it wants to trample

and shatter and bellow, bellow, bellow.
But I need to survive, or want to.
In my living room, on the gold sofa,
I sit and count my breaths, let thought

go, let tears go, let God go.
I have never let so much go.
The pounding recedes, breath by breath,
shrinks into a fist, a knot, a pulse,

the distant surf of other people’s sorrow.

False Spring

From under a tree that’s changed
in the seductive February heat, pink
centers and white petals spelling

spring, a friend and I look up to admire a woman
who wears a yellow scarf against the wind—
she’s stepped quickly to her car

with all her hidden intentions, and though
she’s thrown open the door, she just stands there,
not troubled, we sense it, by a bird

cawing or a book forgotten, but absolute,
as if she’d understood from the wind,
or from her shadow staring right back up at her,

how she might remain and remain,
precisely there.

War—Charging In

Looking up from the dirt, smeared forearms
scraped to the elbow, face a surprised
moon at the field’s edge, concatenation
of crows ready to go off, a red ant preening

at the base of the neck, grit in the hot wind
and insects’ soft-thunder hung, imminence
of pain in the thigh bones, the beginning
of all effort almost ready to unleash, sweat

burning into narrowed eyes, attention
focusing the finger tips, cocking the ear
to catch the blade of an order screamed
between clenched teeth, triggering a cold

hard cramp in the warm air, an argument
to stanch all prayers before they can begin.

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