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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues
OCT 2020 Issue
Poetry

four


Early Dispatch



Monday in America, still Super Great. Love
Is not like this, sometimes only half-great, other
Times not great at all. Looking from here, from
My perch, into distances and quantities: teaspoons,
Farthings, handspan of some random midshipman:
All depths held at bay, not yet departed. Omaha
Is in Nebraska, land of beef and sweet corn,
And there, America is pumping methane into
The sweet air, fracking fossil fuels and blessing
Their browns with sub-minimum wage labor, like
Miniature foreign Herculeses. This is more and better
Than Love, my love. This is the land of the bronzed
But only artificially: white eye holes protrude from
Chopper exhaust-swept hair. Our Raccoon in Chief
Roots around in the trash and loves no one because
He knows better. It’s Really Great here: the depths
And distances give buoyancy to my minor horniness,
Give heft to my deficit: by which i mean my pockets.
Women of America, hear me: don’t you wish you
Had as many pockets as I? Don’t you want to make
Authentic tortillas with me? There is a wide and grand
Fence around my yard, my country. The contractors
Built it on shaky foundation. My love keeps falling down
Or scaled by forty-year old interlopers. They say we
Want a revolution, old boy. Nobody wants that. I can
Frolic in the surf, hold starfish aloft to the waxing moon:
In this light, I look just as white as everyone else, my bare
Tawny feet planted firmly in the shifting American sands.
“Even tan, your skin seems white.” Friends, let’s disappear,
Let’s go where the love is, let’s Americanize our hearts
With airwaves and gunwales and new partners. America
Is not the place for love: the ground has ground us down.
Once I gathered in an alley with three white men and four
Brown bottles. The police stayed away. This is paradise.









Having a Sandwich with You



My favorite memories of Florida
Are of all the sandwiches I didn’t have
When I was there in the winter of 90-91
And the band played Ride the Lightning
And the galley soundsystem played
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds while
Christmas floated around us: kids on drugs,
Out-of-work electricians, inner-city geniuses,
Would-be nuclear technicians. But
You, G, were not there. Were not even
A known quantity. Scrambled eggs
Happened, though. Also lying flat
On my back on the concrete, waiting
For the earthquakes to come. Also
Nearly thirty years later, lying on my back,
Having fallen off my own house, unable
To move and listening, rapt, to your
Latest sandwich order: cubano, hoagie,
Cheeseburger. Florida is just a dream
To me: Jack Kerouac, your family dog, Jack
And all the coyotes on all the golf courses
In the wang-shaped peninsula. To translate
This into English requires a special type
Of transmitter. Are there beaches in hell?
Being of unsound mind in my 46th year
I couldn’t say but this year, two of my friends
Have died too young. I’ve tried to un-
Sequester myself and have been met
With resistance and pretty women and sharks
Too because it’s shark week, though I think
That all of July and August are shark week
But I don’t need a bigger boat. I’ve got a paddle
And your conversations to keep me
Out of harm’s way. That thing I told you
About the Russians is probably not true.
We lived through the cold war, right?
We are middle aged minor poets with
Few regrets. We are, in the end, just men.
One could do worse. I don’t want to do better.
I just want to do. Imagine a dumb horizon.









Birches



Earth is supposedly the place for love
but I’m unable to level

up enough to accept this, whoever you are

There is apparently no place for love
In this universe or multiverse if you like

“Anger is an energy” which is also a pretty tame lie.

When I walk I see trees that sway and trees
with papery bark on which I used to write love notes

to pretty women and rugged boys when I was younger
and stupider and full of what the French call

merde. I think.

The city is burning. The house is on fire. The animals
know this already which is why

they’ve exited to their caves to convene
about the next meal.

I was once a boy, swinging like a bare monkey
from this place to next.

Now that next is here and past, what’s left
Is just the street.

Far from home. Delicious foods in tinfoil.
All the guns and ammunition.

All the love.








Another Day in May



Now more coffee and Brian Wilson
And skittering creatures. I've eaten
Tacos for three days straight and Dad
Is still on oxygen. To feel intense grief
Not right now is also to feel guilty
Concerning elements and microbes
What makes a man sick is also
What kills him, what kills a man
Is also what sustains him. Here, love
Is a concept. Mercy is an act
Of unshabby imagination. Mother
Puts out food for the goldfinches,
A famous athlete debases himself
To the applause of at least dozens.
I've been meaning to talk to you about
The shade-tree and all the shade-tree
People who are as exactly as lazy as I
And exactly as beaten down. Surveyors
Are ranging out back, putting posts
In things. All winter we waited
For the sun and now he's here but will
He make it through another year?

Contributor

Anthony Robinson

Anthony Robinson is unemployed and lives in rural Oregon. He co-edits The Canary, a journal of new poetry.

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues