Lisa López Smith

Pine Row Issue No. 5 Summer 2022 - Featured Poet

In the meantime, the poet, whatever

With thanks to Gerald Stern for that line

In the meantime, the poet, whatever

she calls herself today,

has always been free

to forego pen and paper

for an exquisite distraction

of her choice:

three puppies scrabbling underfoot,

in the meantime

the day perfect

for hiding things or foraging for them,

for washing dishes or horses,

or for forgetting herself

in a song. In the meantime, the poet, whatever

inelegant muses she’s mustered up for today,

be it loneliness or liveliness or consoling herself with

word dances, scaffolds and daffodils and sentence fragments,

the poet, whatever

it takes, she’ll probably do it

except excavate success

and whatever

people say about it, there’ll be words

and naps.

In the meantime, the poet, whatever

else she may do,

she’ll make knots out of words

trying to spell out tangles

to whatever freedom might mean,

time after time,

the poet.

* * * * * * * *

My Annual Spring Depression Is Complicated

By Threats Of Losing Our Home

And Other Assorted Messes

Christmas cards arrive in late February, or March,

like always. Glorious jacarandas

blossoming in the desert. Contentment

in one hand. Grief in the other.

The goat kid just stopped breathing

before I could do anything.

How many chest compressions before you give up

and how do you know

if you gave up too soon?


with a hot coffee

and a half-sharp pencil.

A cow skull in the yard that the dogs drag around.


bright in the morning sky

at 4 am

when I check on the mare,

her newborn foal damp and wide-eyed,

slick with placenta and sweetness and his mother nickering softly.

Sometimes there aren’t words

just a pregnant pause

before the magic,

or before everything falls apart—

there’s a grey bird,

not much bigger than a hummingbird,

hopping branch to branch

in the guava tree, closer and closer to me.

You can trust the impermanence of things: clouds,

the moon, happiness, whims of landlords. Yellow breasted blackbirds

in the back field sing a song

of water and wind.

I think, for monarch butterflies,

neither Canada nor Mexico

is completely home.

I understand that. But those warrior wings

like flower petals,

or steel jets

making cross-continent unity

seem simple,

and I have to remind myself

to see these problems

as invitations

to spaciousness.

I can let things be complicated—

like I’m blindfolded and

navigating the narrow path of grace and limits

with the teenagers I’m not a parent to.

I can complicate things. Sometimes

in the kitchen all day

dicing and julienning

or baking bread, other times,

just coffee in the only clean mug in the cupboard.

Interview with Lisa López Smith

by Pine Row Editorial Board

How did you get started as a poet?

When I started to write poetry, it felt like a home-coming. It was as if I had always been a poet but didn’t realize it as I was so busy being distracted and learning and experimenting with other genres, and then suddenly remembering that when I was young, I always gravitated towards the poetry sections of the library.

Favorite quote:

Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children.

--Khalil Gibran

What would you say is your most interesting writing habit?

I doubt any of my habits are particularly interesting, but for me, creativity works better when writing first by hand and only later moving the work to the computer.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

A friend recently sent me a box of literary journals that I ordinarily don’t have access to, so now I have some old copies of THE KENYON REVIEW and HUIZACHE and THE SUN, as well as a huge stack of books including: WILD MERCY by Mirabai Starr, SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN by Thomas Merton, a Lucy Rees book on horses in the wild, on the work of a death doula by Fersko-Weiss, and the novel THE LAST BUS TO WISDOM by Ivan Doig.

Advice to someone just starting to write poetry?

Find some teachers who encourage you to keep on writing, and also, make it a practice to be like a duck in a rainstorm by letting those rejections roll off your back like water.

What inspires you to write?

Life in rural Mexico, farming and shepherding which keeps me outdoors a lot, and my children

What challenges have you had to overcome?

I am an English writing island in an ocean of Spanish in rural Mexico, in a town with no libraries or bookstores, so I don’t have too much access to literary communities or classes or books, which can be kind of lonely. But, I also feel so blessed to live where I do, in a mutually life-giving relationship with this place that fills me with its special magic.

Anything else you'd like us to know? (personal website, upcoming reading or new work, etc.)

I have poems forthcoming with HUIZACHE and THE SUNLIGHT PRESS, and recently had work published with LIVE ENCOUNTERS and THE NORMAL SCHOOL.

About Lisa López Smith

Lisa López Smith is a shepherd and mother making her home in central Mexico. When not wrangling kids or rescue dogs or goats, you can probably find her overthinking her life choices. Recent publications include: The Sunlight Press, Box, Jabberwock, Sky Island Journal, Mom Egg Review, and Tiferet, and some of these journals even nominated her work for Best of the Net and the Pushcart prize. Her first chapbook was published by Grayson Books in 2021.