My entire post for yesterday is floating around somewhere in cyberspace, with my audio reading and the twenty  lovely comments that came in during the day.  I am nearly inconsolable.  I am posting it again, as a new post because it represents all of the past week’s work and I wanted it in sequence here on the blog.


The smiley-face ubiquitous
like a little dot of sun
may seem to some annoying,
a sappy simpleton.
It’s only friendly gladness,
no shadow lurks beneath.
It can be trusted not to bite–
it never shows its teeth.

“Eccedentesiast” is a word
coined lately to define
the kind of smirk that fakes a sun
when feeling saturnine.
Or like a monkey’s grin–all
teeth from ear to ear–
whenever custom calls for it
or cameras are near.

I asked a guru which comes first
the happy or the smile?
He peered with his half-lidded eyes
much like a crocodile
and sized me up and finally said:
when things are at their worst,
you’ll make them simply tastier
by simply smiling first.

Despite the great advances of
cosmetic dentistry
big smiles like horses’ mouths
seem almost treachery.
So many kinds of smiles there are
that damn or euphemize,
yet best are those not in the teeth
but in love-sparkled eyes.

42 responses »

  1. What happened Cynthia? At least the snafu allows me to re-read and re-write a comment- so it is not all bad. I’ve now managed to look up ‘eccedentesiast’ and wonder if it comes from Latin? Spell check doesn’t like it but it is a good word which I intend to use. Your poem, as usual, has a great flow evolving from the ubiquitous smiley face to love-sparked eyes. I admire the apparent ease with which your use rhyme so that it never seems contrived. Love it and my smile is not eccedenteiast it is genuine admiration.

    • You are such a dear! The business with soundcloud caused a real screw-up, so it will be a while before I try that again. I’m so happy to see you back here for another go…and yes, I do like that eccedentesiast…the only problem is, it’s somewhat insulting, so besides the near un-pronounceability, kindness precludes frequent usage….but, at just the right moment, the right situation…it’s a zinger and a humdinger! Thank you so much for being a true blue blogger friend!

      ps I think that word does have latin roots..ecce=here, here is
      dent=tooth etc..

      • I came back again today for another smile dose and realized that the bar on top is an audio. Thank you for doing this I enjoyed the audio which brings another level of richness to this endearing piece.

        • It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I decided to add audio, Jane. There are always those who say poetry is meant to be heard, but I only partially agree–for some poems, and by some voices. Then there’s the whole tech business which nearly drove me nuts. I was over-complicating it, when the wordpress setup actually is quite accommodating. I’m really pleased you liked the poem enough to come back for another look. By the way, if you want to see a really gorgeous image of “the last hurrah” of a tulip, check out Sheila Creighton’s photo accompanying my poem “To a.Tulip” in my April archives. Sheila started doing an art study of aging and dying tulips after she read the poem, and her black and white shots are spooky interesting. What am I doing up this late?
          I’m smiling at you….with my eyes, of course!

  2. It’s great to hear your voice reading this – and also Longfellow Mountains. I like your careful and expressive reading Cynthia; you give the listener time to absorb each phrase. You are making greater use of the opportunities of the internet, and its comparative advantages.

  3. Oh how annoying for you! I would be reacing inconsolable too. I hope everyone re-comments then it will feel almost ok!

    A fab poem with the most beautiful end lines. And your voice is so strong and full of expression! I need my lessons to commence forthwith! 😊

    • I’m so glad that comment didn’t get lost. I like the easy cadence and rhyme in that poem of yours, and, as I mentioned, rhyme may be a key— it’s what the early bards used to remember their work in a totally oral tradition.

    • Hello Lea, nice to see you here. Trying to deal with all this “tech” at my age, I guess I should be grateful for small success now and then..and take some satisfaction from the trying itself and what is learned from failure and frustration. Thank you for your friendly words!

  4. Not sure if you want my comment repeated–it’s a wonderful poem; and what I said yesterday was that, I think one of the first losses of innocence is when we realize someone’s smile is not genuine.

    • Sweet Starralee, I loved what you said yesterday. I never thought of looking at it quite that way, but now that you’ve expressed it, I think we both have old and deep knowledge of its truth. It’s very kind of you to “check in” a second time–as several others have also done. I’m very touched by that. (Are you hinting at a new enterprise in today’s madwoman posting?)

      • It’s always interesting to me when another blogger’s writing triggers/trips a wire on something I hadn’t put fully into thought or words–so your Smile post caught me off guard. But since I use “everything”, I’ll likely have my young character (novel) toss a line about “smiles not being ‘real'”–for that, I thank you very much

        A new enterprise?? If you mean the mention about the novel I’ve been writing forever–it’s “On” again, a last ditch effort to save my fast draining sanity. But it’s slow-going–and the blog poetry (and interactions) is a lovely distraction; I lack discipline, so…..I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, dear Cynthia!

  5. I enjoyed reading this while listening to you. That was fun! I liked the entire poem, especially the part about the guru. 🙂

  6. A smile is not just a smile, there really are so many smiles, with so many meanings behind them. The way a smile is formed is as much displayed body language as the direction someone crosses their legs, folds their arms, or what direction their eyes turn when answering a question. Body language, and the tone of voices is a favourite subject of mine! 🙂 I love the way you have said that guru peered with his half lidded eyes, mm… I can see him very clearly, that immediately gives a lot away about a personality!! 😉

    And what a great reading Cynthia, so good to hear your confident spoken word! 🙂 It does help the reader identify with the writer a lot, such a simple way to connect everyone a little more on these blogs with so many miles between us all – and now you are in my living-room!

    And there was me feeling bad that I’m so behind with the reading of a lot of posts this week, but it seems I’m on time for yours after all. So what happened to your original post? I can’t imagine losing an entire post with all the comments too – I’d be mortified!

    Going back to those smiles – you’re absolutely right in saying the ‘best are those not in the teeth
    but in love-sparkled eyes’ – definitely the kind of smile I love to see, and I’ve yet to find anyone who can fake it! 🙂

    • Like you, I find body language very interesting–a gesture, a way of sitting, standing, walking, holding the head– these are manifestations of spirit, aren’re they? I’ m glad the reading met with your approval; after hearing your own lovely reading aloud, I know you understand how fraught with little dangers that is! Like you, I used a small inexpensive recorder and uploaded it to my laptop. But I am not so lucky as you are, to have a computer-savvy brother, so I ran into trouble somewhere along the line and succeeded in obliterating my whole post after hours of frustrating trials and errors!
      In the end, it all worked out, and wondrously, even blogging friends came back to re-post comments–above and beyond the call of duty. What you say about my being in your living room makes me smile…with my eyes, of course! Thanks, Suzy!

    • I agree, “eccedentesiast” is not easy even for me to pronounce. And I love your comment about the reading. That is my voice, but it’s been a long, long time since “damsel” and I were in the same sentence. Thank you, Ramu!

  7. I loved reading this, Cynthia, and enjoyed hearing it. The particular form lends itself to the whimsical, jaunty tone that is half serious, almost comic, and thoroughly delightful. There is a lot of cleverness here. May favorite is the stanza about the guru, who…
    peered with his half-lidded eyes
    much like a crocodile
    and sized me up and finally said:
    when things are at their worst,
    you’ll make them simply tastier
    by simply smiling first.
    Aren’t all gurus like that, much like [a] crocodile sizing you up for whatever razamataz they are ready to cook into your brain?
    What makes the entire poem work, though, is the switch in the last stanza from teasing and cleverness to wisdom, recalling Robert Frost’s old maxim that a poem should begin in delight and end in wisdom:
    So many kinds of smiles there are
    that damn or euphemize,
    yet best are those not in the teeth
    but in love-sparkled eyes.
    Ah, to be young still when eyes could sparkle love, and the universe was not quite as jaunty a romp as a poem that moves from lighthearted cynicism to full blown romanticism as smiley faces shine down on the red, yellow, and orange tulips blooming in my neighbor’s yard.

    • Now that last paragraph of yours is a humdinger, and proof you must still be capable of sparkly eyes, I think. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your detailed and attentive reading!

  8. Hi Cyn,
    I loved hearing you read this poem. It just added so much to its powerful message. I loved that last line. Of course, I’m Irish and have to mention when Irish eyes are smiling, then all shall be well with the world. , every good thing shall be well.

    • Hello! I was just over to your blog enjoying your repost of The Chaos…..I don’t get a chance to check more than a regular set of blogs each day, so it’s nice to know that when I see you pop into my in-box I’m in for a treat–if not one of your own posts, then surely something I will find interesting–usually about our wonderful language. It pleases me that you like this “smiley” post, as you are a connoiseuse of both written and spoken English. Thank you! 🙂

  9. I loved hearing your reading. You have a great sardonic tone which is a perfect counterpoint to the “smile style” that you dissect so trenchantly.

    • I am sitting here incredulous….what a fantastic gravatar image, Natalie! Was that snapped during one of your many transatlantic crossings? A soirée, perhaps, with the litterati and the glitterati? And at whom are you looking askance? I always treasure your visits, but this one is definitely the cat’s pajamas……..You’ve made my day!

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