In the Time of Sandpaper & Roses

Michael Robins

I know your tears, where they used to sleep& perhaps I'm no more glum than a childyet born, unconscious yet tethered & trailingits ship set to sail. The oceans surrenderour test results &, after that, bottles bringmessages cavernous, memorized, thirsty.I'm no more my self-winding fist, no doubtdrifting where strings of a gorgeous hat gowhen the wave dissolves everything, erasingeven queens speedy on their feet but notsped enough. One must feed to flourish,not the husband ebbed high into the limbsafter a week of floods, now days of humidity.The oceans say I've a daughter behind me,flowers directly & blind. The oceans sayyou see me wading grass, danger to myself,etcetera. I wanted adoration, famous & hungto the wall. Instead I'm wads of gum, spent& stuck, become one with she who stuck itthere. Of heaven & betrayal, let's replaytoo often being left for that other for good.Mornings when you hear the many dying feetleap across my head, strange infancy curlsas though in a stove. I have that wherewithalstill, I've my few friends & still I have you.I take to the streets, to rainfall, to the pools.They are oceans & I dream we're improving.

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Emerson Robins

Michael Robins is the author of four collections of poetry, including In Memory of Brilliance & Value (2015) and People You May Know (2020), both from Saturnalia Books. He lives in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The poems in Michael Robins's fourth collection grapple with the cadences of language and the implacable push of time. At the threshold where domestic and natural landscapes meet, People You May Know forges its own path between the ebb and flow—the flood and flicker—of loss and lamentation. But the clear-eyed dawn is rarely far away in these stanzas, which rise from calamity and failure in order to discover comfort and a capacity for renewal. Here, every absence creates a space for the shared experience known among friends and strangers, those wondrous lives that precede and illuminate our own.

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