Liz Robbins


Finally, a humiliation:
that with age, lust never
goes. Some days, sudden
as a tail light, red nudge
in the loins, a braking. Or
the purple-cursive note
folded/refolded to tissue,
tucked into shame’s bulged
envelope. Would I be less
duty’s derelict if the objects
made sense? If the life-entire
dream group could be
blacked out, revised to age-
proper? Inside, the mid-
age woman’s odd and rootless
nectar thirst. Not so strange,
now, the women compelled
to eat dirt. I dream them
in moonlight, hunched,
scrabbling in cabbage rows,
making whispers all their own,
volt-white skin and the dark
mouth, life and death. Hanging
the arbor, the high grapes
we can no longer identify.
Mornings, I wake to the dog-
heart beside me. Good, that
the cool spirit with it rises–
tamping down the small
fire left to burn by the tracks
that forever lead out of town.


The Roswell Incident
Even now, in the 21st century, we reject
the versions offered by the government:
UFO’s are weather balloons, aliens are
crash-test dummies. Who so dilatory to
explain, but the guilty? Inadequate,
the Cold War drills, the duck-and-cover
under desks that never made us invisible:
everywhere, the vegetable smell of fear-
warm bodies. We’re tillers of soil and
lore–cotton and corn, debris and bodies–
here in New Mexico where farms get
irrigated from outside sources. No snow
to instruct the living to go under for a
time, no compass so cold. No roads to
salt. But taxes and debt, the private sector
crowded out. Too few crops, too few
dollars, not enough green. So we have
the dream of silver cathedrals lighting
up the night with thunder like a river,
like a faraway bomb. And because we
are good folk, fibbers and alarmists,
when it happens, we’ll hide in our root
cellars, darkling beetles avoiding the light
of too-serious minds, that potential dark.
The mystery is always more compelling
than the truth, which is why we keep vigil:
martyrs in dry fields scanning the sky,
holding broken clocks, our hearts.

Liz Robbins’ third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award, judged by Bruce Bond. Her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith; her album Picked Strings is a recording of various poems from that collection. Her chapbook Girls Turned Like Dials won the 2012 YellowJacket Press prize. Poems are in recent or forthcoming issues of Beloit Poetry Journal, Cortland Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Kenyon Review. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.