The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Liz Robbins

The Petrified Forest


was Bogart’s breakout role, another way
of saying last chance. Who isn’t a lark
readying for flight, sitting on luck’s thin wire?

Talk about the myth—the desert rife with
oases, the hitchhiker’s flask that holds
the zing of an inevitable past gathering

to break. What break takes place in a diner,
where the radio enchants with a swing song,
bringing you so far into a moment, it’s

gone? If you linger here, perhaps in your crisp
uniform of neuroses, you might eat a latticed
pie hidden with cream, swallow your own

way of thinking. A channel changed, and
the news buries its mystery with blood targets
haunting, granting causes to believe in.

Each night you’re forced to recount the day’s
wrong moves, tapping a stick that patterns
the sand. Under whiskey, that old religion,

you get to lose the awareness feeling. Still, sleep’s
a hundred miles off. You want the romance
of the ocean, its healing water and salt, but

all you see are pictures of dead trees. But who
hasn’t dreamed of love in the form of dependency,
the forest that eventually turns to stone?




LIZ ROBBINS' third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award; her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award. Her poems have appeared recently in Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Kenyon Review, and Rattle, as well as on Poetry Daily and The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.



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