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Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
Nine Poems
by Anthony Robinson

Author's Links
Double Sonnet in the Style of Jimmy Ray

Your mammy's? Works girlfriends/I like
gulf war nerve gas
which is what the grackles say
if you listen real hard
with your ears to the glass.
And again: I named my cat
Objective Correlative, and I no longer
get sad or cry
but I get in fights all the time
now, and my ears itch. We fly.
We are a family of swans
we are a nifty package
my girlfriend's lips are soft
her legs are veined--
Her nerves are shot.
The gas works
very slowly. Her skin is hot
to touch and much whiter
than mine. Objective Correlative
scratched her on the wrist.
The blood was brownish.
Utilize techniques one might find
a special case a pool cue. Mind
your peas. The flash lasted
precisely 14 seconds. Each second
was better than the first and each
second was a line. This is a pledge:
i.e. undying love, plaster, fuck, a soft blue blanket.


Beginnings become obsessions, and then abeyances,
a bee in your bonnet, crucial stones in the path:  we
have commenced movement, lumbering forth as sleep
-sated bears de-hibernate-April's green and all that.  Maybe

endurance, suppleness of vision, translation:  carry
over the innerthing from here to there, make the dead

bones more than merely important:  lives
of the saints and such.  Performance might see us
through rough times, you might sing an edgy shanty,
pull apart your blouse, give another dollar to the ferryman. 
Oh, how can I begin, oh how, with you just standing there?

Last Minute Instructions

If you go after, also come underneath.
Two are better than three but not as good as five.
If you pick teams, watch the thread as it follows--watch the eye.
What comes back also casts off: skin, light.
At the moment of climax, the sword falls off the wall.
The bridge was suitable for runaways and billygoats.
My mother does not resemble your mother.
I'd like to begin with an apology--crème fraiche comes later.
She had never been to a hip-hop concert before.
Certain fountains come pre-packaged with pennies.
Don't let the toad get wet--the cleaning bills are outrageous.

Poem for Janice Pang and Michael Palmer

She meant to say "inscrutable," but what came out
was "endeavoring," partly perhaps she lived in a city
where nothing was a job description and nothing
was what one saw out the back of the shambling truck.
This is why she was quiet. Her handwriting
was clear, not at all indistinguishable from the scribble,
the scrabble, the rubble. The rapport she shared
with the tiny gnomes of West Garden was a substitute
for the gulf between the mouth of the Lop Chang
and the Mexican Wilderness. There were spots there,
the sky filled in slowly with dots, black dots, flies
and bees and rubberbands. We bounce back. We bounce.
It's fun. Substitute because for perhaps in the second
millennium, line 'em up, and BOINGGG. Back to the bay
area. Back to back matches. Sulfur doesn't always accompany
the devil. Sometimes it's sugarcane or coconuts
or a retinue of hula dancers swishing their leis in Morse
Code. She told me she was writing ode
to those less fortunate. The names on the mountains
were visible from the city. The mole (poking out from
the seedpile) said: but it's automatic writing, right?
It's French, it's dirty. I don't think I like it. I like it.
She's covered with blue fur and she's nailing shut
the pages of this golden book. The sun is having a hell
of a time, the mussel shells are broken open.
Look at the thin hollow column. Look at the light.

Poetry Answers

It flounders on the front lawn. Its eyes are on the same side of its head, where news is stamped alongside salmagundi. The titters it hears from the balcony come from the already written.
     They're reading salami, they've discarded their yardsticks, they listen and laugh from the edge of dead hoaxer's skull. The impertinence is infectious. Their names ain't legion, nor plunging swine. They misuse irony. They walk in single file. They put emery boards in orifices.
     The Princeton like the Hustler is a reference for the rest of us. It pays to protrude, like a book from the uniberry. If you scribble on the margin, you'll live in a big house and fart on birds if you please. Banality, is of course your reward. A Japanese-American marginalized poet told me I was daft. I thought he said deft. The death of the referent has left me bereft. May I have a sip of your chai?
     Take a letter and leave a penny--pen your thought on versing burglars. Smile but don't guffaw. Sit up straight. And where are you going? I'm leaving and I'm taking the poems. Where are you going? Somewhere between the literal and the littoral.

Thought the cold might offer
up a reason, that maybe
a dry, inhospitable season
as this winter is could do
the faculties some good: leafpile
slush hasn't gathered yet--
nearly ten months since
the last shoe-sludge flood,
no freeform rainwater ponds,
no mud gathering in the yard,
spilling out over the curb, no
youthful need to seek heat
with another body; no not yet--
one's left wanting it wet, skies
unopened portend empty spring
whose respite's joy plays keen
against the unburdened before;
frost collected on the ground
only kindles desire for what,
like most appreciated things
usually arrives unwanted.
Revolve It Wonderfully, You Rhetorician--

He's tired, our man, of blowing up bridges, tired
of reticence--avoid crossing, look the other way--
"Socrates stopped himself..."you can only take
so much. Teaching, that is. "...with you," that is.
Think about an idea that already concerns you--
borrow an old one. How's this? An essay:
her reasons (parenthetic) for leaving were obsucured
by crescent slivers and halves of zeros. Half
of what? (The basic problem with fallacy is...)
Take the slope--it's greasy. If X then Y then
the line is too damn clever. But is it enough, ever?
If it works, apply the wrench, and pull away a face:
imperfect, broken body, little one: the self
becomes the reader...he switches on the kitchen light,
he switches on the bathroom light, he splays
himself across the porch, the voices dwindle--
hair, thick, black, eyes, green, this accursed circumstance--
"Please don't be personal in a way that detracts from substance..."

Romantic Meditation for a Steadily Shifting Landscape

It's starting to rain and I think
the coffee is cold. This sudden
wish for transformation has come
undone under the tree-cover
one can only imagine through
this fog. If you understand
the pattern of the leaves, yellow
and light grey against the stinking
sidewalk, you'll understand
the strange papers left on the doorstep,
the men who swarm when the bumble
bee zooms past, and you'll end
the senseless grieving occasioned
by the fall. May your step be
never sullied by the unclean places
behind you, the giant gulf between
good intention and rotten berries.
May the day unfold like a dirty
napkin, full of itself and of food
and a good word and bring news
of the not-as-bereft as you. Once
you girlfriend said you were too
fat--she's seen the thin photographs
and is not impressed. May it all
be over by January 10th. The presidency
will be canceled and the fruits will
leap from the trees into lead-seamed
tin cans with paintings of peaches.
The young girls from across the sea
of bright building murals wear
scarves knotted into their hair.
You've seen them skipping, you've
devoured the last of the lamb
and the baked beans. Settling in seems
like the price one pays for unmitigated
affection. The stars will never
go out as long as you carry a monkey
wrench in your side pocket. One can
always hope that things really
do get better: social security, pretty
silver hair, teeth you can take out,
place on the stand near the window
out which several fleas are leaping,
fleeing the quixotic cat you named
for your seven biggest fears, but later
shortened to Midget. And I'm hoping
soon for a refill, a warm up, a bright
waitress to come, sweep the crumbs
from my table, for the fog to clear.

"This bathroom is being clean by a lady janitor"
What this mean (s)            anyone's guess          conjecture

often leads
to fresh perception, but it may not
always be useful                          the horse/water tale
could apply         my guess             that she's pristine,
like porcelain         and your problem is the pronoun-

which makes you              tense.    In      the primordial heat
and mess of last week-language                was grunts,

gestures used to convey desire:    hunger, lust,
extreme unction      /       and we continue to dwell

in inhospitable zones          /          so very hot in here,
the lady janitor wears a glass slipper and confounds

even the most princely of          expectations          you want
a last page, a period /
                                      the wind is your nemesis

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