Two Poems by Anthony Robinson

Anthony Robinson

Failures of the Poets

Wyatt couldn’t keep count of his “numbrous vers”
And when I mentioned this, a user said, “pronounced properly,
They scan perfectly.” They do not, but as a rule,
I’ve stopped arguing with old men. The shaggy poems,
Derived from an old Italian, have their mincing charms,
And for this he did not deserve hanging, nor beheading.
It’s unfortunate to be a human being in the 21st
Century, having learned little to nothing about little
And nothing. But everything is so huge! Battles around
Us, aswarm, and unseen unless one squints hard:
This morning, coming down from LSD, I saw for the first time
A thousand (I exaggerate) small white birds colliding furious
In the wind outside my front window. Flying and crashing,
And on for hours, making their beauty by falling apart;
Do I dissemble? I don’t think so. I think sometimes my heart
Is full of inert materials, but I still keep making fragile things.
Whitman was long-winded and too keeping with the rhythms
Of everyday speech—an unpoetic medium—but one must
Only glance back at English Verse to see his rhythms
Were old and honored—he was not encumbered, though,
By regularity, whatever that means. His sister, Emily,
Seemed to know only one rhythm, and that too was just fine.
Nobody genius is ever fine for their time. We would
Do well to remember this. O’Hara was killed by a wayward
Vehicle on a beach in the prime of his life. He enjoyed
Fellating strangers and wrote the most beautiful imperfect
Poems. All of these things are worthy of praise, even the parts
Nobody wants to talk about. Pound succumbed to Italian
Fascism. Like Wyatt, he wandered too far from his native land,
Perhaps, or became disheartened by the brokenness around,
Unable to contain history, he made it himself in a spectacularly
Audacious way, both famous and infamous. And from the ship
I come into this madness too. I cannot hold a job, and have
Birthed nothing significant in this world. I count birds and numbers
Of syllables, but cannot raise my own child. The poems, they
Come as they will. I have a human south of me who loves me,
And I have other ways of being. I will burst into flames. I will get up.

Everything Looks Worse in Black & White

There is nothing very quiet happening today
And I am hardly here for it: wide space crowds
The box. I have returned from Paris and Paris
Isn’t Paris anymore: it’s barely even France
Which hasn’t changed much since Montaigne
Was inventing the essay around 1572 or so
Thirty years after Thomas Wyatt lost his head
On acid or on imperfect sonnets because all
We have in this world is increasingly impressive
Violence: this week I learned about the Huguenots
And how the Pope put a bounty on their body parts
And to take part in bloody spectacle was almost
A religious obligation: I read about this in bed
Where I write most of my poems and essays. I was
At the time eating a croissant which I can always
Pronounce correctly which sounds funny
Because my rhythms are English and a distant
Second, Spanish. Nobody can pronounce guacamole
Correctly though and I don’t correct them. I have
Returned from South Bend which is in the news
Lately but I returned after visiting my daughter where
We visited two parks on either side of the city.
In the first park all the children were black children
But in the second park all the children were white.
My daughter looked at me, in my brown face
And asked me to explain Jesus and I did
But left out the crucifixion part. I now know that
The French Catholics did much worse to the Huguenots.
Everybody keeps killing everybody else
Is a constant theme in my poems, but nobody ever
Points that out. Today I returned from an Oscars Party
But I wasn’t watching the Oscars. I was watching
In my mind’s eye, grainy film of Eva Braun, 31 years old
Fetching and blonde in a bathing suit on the edge of a lake,
First standing on a small dock, then in the water itself,
Kicking up her legs like a sinking Rockette. Up on the shore
Her lover is petting the dogs. Everyone is laughing
And smiling. It looks like a really great time there once.

Anthony Robinson lives and writes in rural Oregon, where he resides on the side of a mountain with family and a cat named Raúla. His first full-length book, Failures of the Poets, will be published by Canarium Books this spring.

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