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Something Like Pneumonia


Nobody remembers the particular bird
caught one half minute Sunday by its reflection,
least of all the bird who may for that matter
be dead, danced into the hushed science
& its silence not unlike the spent lover
sharing sour breath, nor dissimilar from layers
frozen with sparrows before lifting in unison
their wings. In the history of a dying hour
not much happens & I pour three cups of seed
filling the feeder. I buy socks, pairs made
far away, clear a throat for ears in green grass,
cottontail who nearby begins its ascent, floats up
high until it’s another way life says goodbye.
If I had their heads I’d talk like the flowers,
if they had mine then subject to terms, conditions
this breath revises, stalls in the singular rooms
between the slap & its belated whimper,
its blood. In earnest I’m stepping both toward
& from the busted chin & once more out
repeating this memory: in Amherst, when indeed
marriage broke my favorite glass, I no longer
believed the patience of my neighbors, the fires
rising large those last weeks alone & burning
what wouldn’t sell, what wouldn’t fit with what I
couldn’t spare in the trunk. I’ve my breath
once more, was never gone in fact & in trying
again & again to back the car in, vow to leave
inside that year certain squirrels & foxes
good riddance. Of gravity working everyone
I swore this morning over my own & yet support
balloons on birthdays home, from the doctor
lollipops orange & blue unless a diagnosis
stares altogether gone. I’m hurrying like anyone
crossing my life before the changing light,
before it fades. Some moons are yellow & some
mostly sky under which objects spiral blind,
stretch thin, faux handbags & the like.
In the dying hour I wonder what if anything
scaffolds teach us, scars barely seen & finches,
excuse me, these hunches I call my voice
drumming a bucket, among coyotes in the urban
backdrop. No matter how you slice the day
she’s enough a good time, has forward motion
until every car, well, I imagine they stop.
With practice, I leave the world in thought,
join the actual feathers, a tomato owning
shine, its very shadow, ever so merrily again.




Carved in the Tree of My Neighbor’s Backyard



This gift, someone losing their days so we could find them
by windows bricked over, our sure movements rubbing
mortar & its clustered joints with each corner nudged
until all remains shaken, stirred. About a rectangle ghost,

my new lens over an older model dimmed, tools of the trade
better described as teachers, dedicated friends & maybe
we haven’t spoken & will not have that illuminated chance.
The baby scoots therefore for the bottle as it rolls the floor,

the many definite articles where his future bends forever
forming questions, e.g. fathers & their little deaths before us
more specifically, my own father revived in gasoline smell,
genie from its nozzle, knuckled hose & click. Each time

I feel his hunger I drain another pint of water or look up
sparrows on the new feeder all aggressive, territorial
pissings in the backyard of here. I’ve told this before, no?
I’ve told you already of men swinging near, how they inch,

they steer & take the most of everyone elsewhere where
no one knows. They refuse sweeps of marriage & death
& how the latter lasts too entirely long. I want to say
the flavors of someone I loved looked for good too small

where they crossed the field. I’ve told you in a rumor mill
I should’ve called from within the shell, head over heels
toward the concave self, freshen-my-mail-go-to-sleep, wake,
check the half-tended memory, viewpoint extended on a stick

ad infinitum, ad nauseam rising high the me, you & everyone
disappearing like contents from a glass, forget me not
letting the teardrops roll down. If I think of the warmest day
it might snow still, sun & the solid land stuck on the same page,

more likely the same book. It’s a fourth printing, happy
being & not a dark spot on the downside of a canyon wall.
Loosely now, some summer mornings I search the drawer,
closets, & in the hope the single glove my child will wear

soon appears, silly me. If I let an honest vulnerability in
in an instant I flush, rush to finish before my children cry
or wake, or clean a little up before those little whiles
when I’d be the flinch beneath the firework that was,

too often, my father in the driveway. His intention floats
& surely I’ve said my own lifts a hand from the faucet,
lets slip its fingers before the water reaches lips, instead
floods the ground where, somehow, a yellow flower grows.





Michael Robins is the author of In Memory of Brilliance & Value (Saturnalia Books, 2015) and two previous collections of poetry. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Diode Poetry Journal, Fence, Forklift, Ohio, Ghost Proposal, Hubbub, The Laurel Review, Parcel, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. For more information, visit www.michaelrobins.org