Feature > Poetry
Robin Behn

Robin Behn

Robin Behn's most recent volumes of poems are The Yellow House, Naked Writing and Horizon Note. Her forthcoming Once Upon A Time in The 21st Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing is based on her work with the Creative Writing Club for high school writers at The University of Alabama, where she teaches and directs the MFA Program. She is the recipient of awards from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, NEA, and Guggenheim Foundation. She lives in Birmingham.

What You Told Me,

word on word like
straws in a fist, the short and the long of it,
the hollowed-out and already-tanned
midnight paste of it, some thing about
a boy, some thing about a knife nearby, a boy-voice
buckling up through tonnage of wet sand, a game, just
a game, the straw in the mouth of it,
filled with the collapse of it, the torpor and collide, some
thing about forgetting, the mouth-meat abandoned, but
speaking, speaking now, sharpening
the blame of it, shimmying the damp of it, a drifting
of the rack of bones the cloth-covered
face is, a sinking contingency, conscripted
awe of the boy the boy who lived, his room
the next room, straws in a fist, stick slapped across your
palm, his room in Athens now, his room on the moon,
his door in the mountain, skull and crossbones in the mountain
collapsing, time
spitting, the hours running down on him
who you are not the father of, not the
twin brother of, the long and the short of it,
the single responsible hour, some boss breathing
down on it, some place where the dead
line up for their silly food, the saying of the meat of it,
the things that must be seen to, the boy
not your boy, the straw in his mouth,
the thud and the glance as you
watch me for a sign, the boy
not your boy no of course no
t you rs, but the weight and the heat,
the grill and the grid the ghosts
still sift through, the fishy air jammed with them,
leaves in your mouth, the radical random
darkness still settling, the leaves, the tree,
the tree the boy shakes to death
the next day, rooted, but wounded, a
purple leafy darkness ashamed, the leaf-sounds undoably
overlapped, the grimble and soak, the
rot and the drift of throat of dark throat,
the suck and the quiet now, quiet, shhh, the
thrum of these particular these
boy-ridden glades.

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