About the Phones

Robert Wood Lynn

Closing my car door, you always say                                     Watchfor deer and text when you get home.I want to, I do, but I will forget.Time moves and I forget.                                                             LookI am trying, I am, but it's not the kindof thing that trying solves.Onceon the side of a highway, a cop told meabout dragging a full grown buck outthe windshield of a wrecked car all by himself.About the sounds it made, Like the devil learningwhat regret feels like. About the woman it kickedto death in the driver's seat. The phone callhe had to make to her grown daughter afterwhose first question was, Did the deer survive?Different cop, different time, different highway.Said she keeps her phone on silent then spokeabout securing the crime scene in that classroomin Blacksburg where the one student shotall the others. Every single one of themhad a cell phone, she said, and for hours afterevery single one rang and rang or vibratedacross the floor in the same slow waythat blood pools. No one was allowed to answer,no one, so instead the phones rang all nightuntil batteries were empty, voicemails fullof a thousand Call me when you get this so I knowyou're okays. Turns out time moves the wayblood does. Batteries too. Runs outlike a startled deer across a road.                                            Listenl am trying to find a way to tell you this.There are things that trying solves but thisis not one of them.

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J. Lee

Robert Wood Lynn is a writer from Virginia. His debut collection of poetry, Mothman Apologia (Yale University Press, 2022) was selected by Rae Armantrout as the winner of the 2021 Yale Series of Younger Poets. His chapbook How to Maintain Eye Contact is forthcoming from Button Poetry in 2023. 

cover of mothman apologeia

New Haven, Connecticut

Yale University

"These poems name the hurt wrought upon the meek that makes the elegy, here, as much an exaltation of the living as a mournful dirge for the land."
—Major Jackson, Vanderbilt University

The 116th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Robert Wood Lynn's collection of poems explores the tensions of youth and the saturation points of knowledge: those moments when the acquisition of understanding overlaps with regret and becomes a desire to know less. Comprising poems of place set across the Virginias, this collection includes an episodic elegy exploring the opioid crisis in the Shenandoah Valley as well as a separate series of persona poems reimagining the Mothman (West Virginia's famed cryptid) reluctantly coming of age in that state's mountains and struggling with the utility of warnings. These are narrative poems of love and grief, built from a storytelling tradition. Taken together they form an arc encompassing the experience of growing up, looking away, and looking back.

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