Claude Smith

Claude Clayton Smith
712 Orion Trail
Madison, WI 53718

Professor Emeritus of English at Ohio Northern University, Claude Clayton Smith is the author of eight books and co-editor/translator of two others. His own work has been translated into five languages, including Russian and Chinese. His poems have appeared in more than 50 venues and won three first-place awards. "In the Beginning" (below) appeared in the 2019 Wisconsin Poets Calendar. The sonnet "Until" (also below) won the American Aesthetic 2016 sonnet competition and appears in three anthologies.

For further information see his website:



Until the day that all the stars collapse
upon themselves in clouds of light and dust
(or raise their fissile mushroom heads, perhaps),
as quantum physics proves what physics must—

Until on Earth the oceans split and flood
the poles as if old Moses bade them to,
and cities lie awash in salty blood—
I’ll bide my time and concentrate on you.

Apocalyptic visions slip and slouch
through history to leave us in their wake,
but not a damnéd one, in truth, can vouch
for Truth. Imagination fails. Forsake

the future, then, for this—the day we share
with atoms that bombard the very air!

In the Beginning

Grandpa was practical,
an axiomatic man.
He guarded his speech
like gold:
Eye of the hook
through the eye of the leader.
Corn knee-high
by the Fourth of July
Fishing, farming or
clowning around—
the truth came
in wood-burned plaques.
Never trust, he said,
an old fool.

He even presided
in the kitchen,
much to Grandma’s chagrin:
Never put soap
in a coffeepot.
Never use a beer mug
for milk
When Grandma went
he said We all must go.
When he went,
he went without a word.