Monday, 26 April 2010

Five Poems - W.F. Roby

Note: we are proud to publish this little selection of poetry. Roby's work embodies one of the main things we want to do with this site, namely explore a wide variety of contemporary styles, especially the supposed divide between the experimental and the traditional, 'the cooked and the uncooked' as Weinberger put it. It is a divide that is, these days, largely redundant and in need of deconstructing, and some of the finest new work does just this, often innately and unself-consciously. Roby's work, I feel, belongs to this new, deconstructively enlightened category.

Poem for the first snow

We move through today like water through the body's
pulp. How mute, how dreadful, how fantastic. All last night --
wind chimes. This morning is no light. Every year
I write this poem earlier. The men on the bus speak slow Spanish
and the sun is no one, a spoon of burning oil.

Seven children

Some sun and seven children. Some scream running
from the swing set. They are like livestock, begging
witness at a breath’s length. These are unfamiliar
kids, small like novelty bicycles. I will never know
their language. They pretend to laugh at everything.
The clouds are busted things -- brass earrings
hanging over the babies. Their smiles
a sack of reeking peaches. Lucky horse,
he will not have them near. A kingdom of flash
for some light moving back and back and back again.

The Sportsman and His Sister


Maids learn but purse,
stand yet set. Music could among us,
oh. Our sister, shy nature, lost
her wicket. Give me your hand dear
so we hour together. My pianoforte
indulgence, an exercise as mistaken as
precaution. It accepts your invitation.


We delight improving dashwoods
with our blades, happiness in sixes. And now
mounted by mistake backwards, pleasant whatever.
These are still no dry folly, a thing stood rapid
on the hills seven years. Confined graceful building
trifling on grasses. They insist you releasee
xpenses, total cost for their song. Civility, vicinity,
graceful and all.


Improve, mention perhaps raising
a peculiar sentiment -- simplicity,
acceptance and so on. There is a reasonable appearance
to my companions, oh my, remarkable
they understood my invitation. A pursuit of the elderly
asks perhaps all to suffer.

Cold Harbor

This is rubbing alcohol and this is cotton gauze.
This is morphine sulfate and this the Wizard of Oz
paused so you can see up Dorothy's skirt.

This is sterile formula and this is loamy dirt.
Bury piles of one and take quick sips of the other.
Tell us where they buried your brother,

dig him up and write a short poem. He has a splinter
down to his thumb bone, bleed the wood out. Let winter
put her hands on you and you will be made well --

it's no mistake. Write your name where the blade fell.
Years stack up, worms dig the wound in circles
under penalty of bright light. We are colonels

cobbed between two trenches -- dope and distance.
This is the kitchen, the villanelle, like your mom's religion
and its insistence. One night, a bowl of pine nuts

fallsl in a comma shape, a giant's ringlet
or a sweeping fault. Your brain a shock of wood,
December birthdays, brick chimney and soot.

This is dream time, analog and plain spoken.
Call for a medic, a disaster, a chaplain --
tell them I am bright and shining.
Tell them not to fuss with kneeling.

Atlantic City Sonnet #1

Loosies, I got Loosies -- this (the street guy's whine)
cut through the crowd noise, a bell not ringing
but pointing out how soft the ocean's singing.
In the fifth line there's a turn, a first tide
dressing our wounds, salt water knows where to hide
and where to settle. Take this, ocean, a blessing --
I felt you dressing then undressing me. An earring
left unbuckled is a fish hook. We are allied
with fragments of the fossil record. This rain is stilled
up above the top stair. Look close for the tiny name
etched into the breadbasket of the sea.
And though the water stings, it is a throat trilled
sharp and flat. The burning is pain, same
as every other. Let the cut toe be.

Bio: W.F. Roby is a poet and freelance writer from Texas living in exile on the beach in New Jersey. His poems have appeared in magazines like 32 Poems, Stirring, and Yareah.


  1. "Cold Harbor" was my favorite. Very well-done. I always enjoy being bombarded with such beautiful and surprising images.

  2. I really liked all your poems but "Cold Harbor", particularly the opening lines "This is rubbing alcohol and this is cotton gauze./
    This is morphine sulfate and this the Wizard of Oz" grabbed me. Great work! Desiree w.

  3. Thanks everyone! It is such a joy to get notes like this. Too often we forget that what we create HAS an impact, and thanks much to etcetera for providing me this outlet.


  4. This, to me, is what poetry is all about. It's imaginative, has beautiful phrasing and to me, it's sort of like an abstract narrative. Awesome.

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