“Boy, you throw like a girl,” one coach told me.
“Just take your glove and go”—
Though I’d seen girls throw hard and straight.
So I learned not to throw.
“Son, you run like a duck,” another said
As soon as I’d begun,
Yet had no words to right my stride.
Thus I learned not to run.
I sing untaught before no audience
And let my slight notes ring
With nothing to confound my voice.
I won’t learn not to sing.
J.D. Smith’s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016, and he has received a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently circulating two additional collections and working on projects in several genres. He works in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife Paula Van Lare and their rescue animals.