The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Robin Behn

Palette

 

She has come a long dry way
zone upon zone

to awaken on the floor of the
friends of friends of friends

on the thin palette in the warehouse
curtained into something like rooms in

another of them close by
whoever-they-are making

a kind of machine of love
a soundtrack as she studies

a spidery map to his flat’s
street address of ether she

told passport control best
she could where she was bound

then something in a bottle then stale
cartridges of bread the pleasantries

of the dispossessed
her new her certified kin

then a meager shower in the single hour
of hot water stolen off the grid

and donning of the packed
single gorgeous raiment

and looking up of digits and writing them on a slip
for when she phones herself in hell

no it’s the number she keeps of a man
lately returned to Berlin

elite purveyor of flowers
in a cart across from the zoo

that fund his furious paintings God she
loves the nineteen shades of blood and gouged-

out letter-like back-lit glyphs and
fucking in the tyrant’s language

 

 

Robin Behn

The Wildness

 

My friend, with the horses, with the life
of horses, my friend
with the life, with the rhythm,
of horses, knows

as I cannot, that to curry
certain favors with sleek brown God
one must polish the nearby
sleek brown gods unfailingly,

Mondays
in rain, and Tuesdays
in rain, and days inconsolable
for want of more rain, and days

the soul's purpose
is cloven, or slurried,
and days the harness rots
for want of its familiar, she circles

the stiffness, hide and haunch, her hand
in the harness of the wooden brush's belt, her
palm's bristles swirling, her touch
the rough touch of a lover or a god

that shivers to attention
a thing the horses hold for her,
that needs daily tending, that comes
from the field for it, requiring my friend

whose boychild is spooked
by the human realm, to be looked at
one eye at a time in her own level eye
to see, to see in, to what might be done.

 

 

 

ROBIN BEHN is the author of four books of poems, most recently Horizon Note and The Yellow House. She directs the MFA Program at the University of Alabama. Her recent projects include a new textbook for young writers, Once Upon a Time in the 21st Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing, and the libretto for a new opera, Freedom and Fire! A Civil War Story.

 

 

Previous  |  Next