Michael Robins

Fear of Drowning



Like stray thread, then the thousand blankets

done & streaming a river, this sky that lets down

her hair, her cats & dogs, gophers & geraniums,

cohorts all & to what do I owe leisure of my open ear

paired with the cloud unhinged & the drum

rolling out a thunderstorm. I’m stranger in town

having drunk like a fish, eaten like a bear, once more

slurred like I’ve an inkling toward delight &,

somehow, alive this side of morning. Last night

my ten curious toes afloat in a pool, I forgot

how much I want to sink to that very bottom

& stay, how the prints left over the tile & into bed

remind me of saplings planted single file, even

how they grow into fine things before falling,

expelled. If life ended now how do I, how dare I

complain for my lot, from the yonder curb

stealing the pinecone larger than any known fist,

tossing it back with luggage & the thought, Maybe

my daughter can love this. As I can’t steer the erratic,

ongoing mind, through fields in other seasons

yielding corn & swollen in the wind our bodies trail,

I want to know who fills the shadow, who the lake

withholding the glow of miles dividing me

& so many friends. If a life shutters, if it dreams

new names for the overcast eye, then onward

dollars drinking & me still believing it good

choosing how we abandon this world, leave music

alive & greet the recent dead. In the given day

you try finding a thing or two worth stopping for

& do, despite the holes punched in a billboard

master what invented primrose resides. This is life,

illegible & tattered, tempting the book closed

once guessing its end. In a straight line anyway,

I neglect the umbrella & its faultless curve,

its dripping, blossom shine & where to go next

after falling on a single, hopeful note long as I can.

Let's Go Shoot A Hole in the Moon



What must it be from the beginning

tempted, back porch drinking or caught

like a scarf, cotton smile of the dress

fevered in the car door passing homes


bent & sometimes snapped, past If not

his mother’s pills (oh yes my father

terribly three) then what watery shapes

shifting out his eyes. Each & all still,


somebody shaken, retuned, crisscrossing

fence lines dumbstruck, faces fonder

& piled under trees both walnut, cherry.

Be at rest & quit the bygone self, who


believed a fuse hung porcelain moons,

waxing sky. Must’ve been my growling

shouldered there, what stubbornness

stroking down the shore, now crawled,


now souvenir reading Be calm & carry on

or Live the life you love. Odd passage

making out a decade alive, even autumn

no more tugging the one-horse mind


who gleaned darkness, obvious direction

another him (my father & then me)

turning tipsy home. Among the apples

certain bruising, tattered web so fleeted


it’s mine & mine alone, yes, dizzy

chasing an idea with leaves & into them

be the muted ending earned, final,

mere acquaintance that rippling black


lakeside, mosquitos knuckling the moon

all grim. The moon, mellow citizen,

spins its singular demeanor over brows

up in their rowing, others from fires


swollen or street-lit or beginning Once

upon a time. If instead a fuse hangs there

then surely similar feelings of abundant

October lapsing, the various in which


I owned every twig, overheard ballgames

blown past the many curtains. Rest,

no more sifting old truth from a priest

& atheist walking in bars, the difference


between a schoolboy & everything else

when the cloudy sight sets hamstrung,

spelling it no other way. It happens

stuttered dusk continues its cool descent


beyond the couple kissing, & the moon,

oh yes, its attention devout, gorgeous,

never void by the well-aimed stone,

round & beyond what breath must be


caught after a dozen millennia, like

no air. Where my son’s howling arrives

then outside let us go, look left now

& route a child’s parade, look up alive


before the waning brilliance expires

buh-bye. & later to know we’ve shared

such things as I love you, You are not

alone, Go to sleep, No need to be afraid.


MICHAEL ROBINS is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently In Memory of Brilliance & Value (Saturnalia Books, 2015). He teaches literature and creative writing at Columbia College Chicago. For more information, visit www.michaelrobins.org