My Name is Tom Smith
My Name Is Tom Smith
by Russ Marshall
My name is Tom Smith. "Yes, really!" is my response
to women in bars and cops who stop me on the street
because I look like somebody. Some other people
in bars take me as a narc because, they tell me later,
of the way I look or because of the way I walk. When they
find out my name, they kind of step back a little and shoot me
a sidelong glance. I don't mind. I think it's kind of funny. My
mother, Mary Smith, snickered when I told her. She still thinks
I look more like Charley Manson.
My name is Tom Smith and I work in this here beat-up, red-brick
factory in Detroit. I get along with most everybody
even though there are a lot of ass-holes in this world and some
of them work here. It's 1985 and I'll be dead in 2 years at 48.
Somebody will find me on the floor of my mobile home
in Belleville. Too many cigarettes, booze and a bad diet
I guess. Can't really blame the job - I'm here in this life
because I got nowhere else to be. I had a double by-pass
a while back or else some other ass-hole would be working
this press right now.
Me and the ex-wife divorced a long time ago. Our three kids
are grown up and living away from me and her. Two are
doing OK. But that one girl? Well - she's a lot like me. Likes to
have a good time. She'll finally get married after I'm gone
but it won't last. My other two will hang in there. As for me?
Once in a while after the bars close and that horny old thang
raises it's ugly head, I call up my emergency lover-girl and we
have a good time. She understands and doesn't question.
In a few years she will write a poem about finding my grave
among graves in a lifeless, barren field. Late, she writes, a visit
to a favorite old cemetery satisfies her search for evidence
of a life among the discarded beer cans and time-worn stones.
My name is Tom Smith.
But you knew all that and more you won't tell. The presses will
at last fall silent. Three black crows will stand high - nodding
on their roost. I will yield and glide away. I will take
nothing because I brought nothing. I will give to you what
I had - to hold 'till it's your time. You will remember me long
after I cock my head and plunge from the ledge.
And you will write a poem about me - or will it
be about you. My name is Tom Smith.