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R. T. Smith

R. T. Smith’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize Anthology and New Stories from the South. His most recent collection of poetry, Outlaw Style (Arkansas, 2007), received the Library of Virginia Poetry Prize. His third collection of stories, The Calaboose Epistles, is forthcoming from Iris Press in 2009, and he is working on a book-length series of poems about Flannery O’Connor entitled The Red Wolf. Smith edits Shenandoah and teaches writing and literature at Washington and Lee University.


Storm Warning

The peacock’s shriek blistering the midnight air, the roar they always claim mimics a freight train rounding the bend. Hurricanes south and west, though too distant to raise concern, but I wake to the emperor bird crying murder again, and moth [...]

Wretch Like Me

In the hospitality of war we left them their dead to remember us by. Archilochus The soldier kneeling in the wet gully has ceased his rocking and sobbing, though the claw-pronged limb reaching over him keeps trembling in the breeze, its s [...]

Ina Grove

Fall 2005 | Fiction

—Lexington: After two hours of deliberation, a panel of magistrates today in the circuit court of Rockbridge turned in an indictment in the rape and murder case of Brodie Painter, the so-called Irish Creek Desperado. The crime, which raised a significant stir hereabouts, involved felonious assault on a fourteen-year-old girl named Ina Grove, and the prosecutor, Captain Stansfield, now has plans to petition Judge Armbruster for the gallows in light of both the harm done the girl and the savagery with which her uncle Leaf Pogue was stabbed to his death.


When sap ambered the scarred apple branch, I skipped church to play Scrabble on the porch. On my knees with seven letters I acted Adam, eager to order the world. The first word rooted in the board's central star. In an hour I had a crossword garden t [...]


Harpers Ferry, WV High on a roofer's scaffold I connect the far dots of Orion, The Great Bear and The Swan, but I also invent The Gallows from a dozen scattered stars and see Osawatomie climbing the thirteen steps to heaven, as Miss Isley's hand appe [...]


In the sewing room the mail-order Singer with its chrome-rimmed wheel and gleaming needle was turned under to make a desk while mother started dinner. I faced west where the window shimmered. For an hour I rehearsed my letters, spelling everything vi [...]

Tube Rose

Winter 2004 | Fiction

The last evening I saw Granny Annie she was rocking in wicker, the whole porch creaking with the weight of her grief. All the neighbors and relatives had eaten and gossiped and gone, leaving their plates and tumblers and stains all over the house, their condolences trailing behind them like coon tails on aerials, and the flower wreaths were wilting on the grave.