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Anthony Robinson: Two Poems

Instructional | Top Twenty Places to Start a Family


Elvis and honey and the beekeeper's daughter
pin me like a leaf to this notion of you —

After the party — Nick waving wildly, men
exploding like soft wet fruit, ripe

enough and sweet — the walk home: 27th to 12th,
15 blocks past houses I think I've seen.

There's a student of mine, screaming drunk
from the other side of the street, the bright side,

the Robyn side. If streets are gendered, they're
either Nicks or Robyns, and the former (in the street-world)

never bristle at being called “avant-garde” or “feminist"”
I want to put quotes around every phrase, “like this,”

and honey to a bear and ferociousness go hand-in-hand,
and you, dear, back at Iowa, a dustbowl away,

a world of fruit and wheat. At 19th or thereabouts,
Josh says: “But you could take a chance at something better.”

And he means “something you,” he means “something there.”
“I'd prefer safe mediocrity,” I reply. And the buzzing

of the store-front neon sets me off on honey, daughters,
bad bears, fruit and bugs, and this night that doesn't end

until Marci sees your picture on my fridge, now faded,
but still clear enough to prove you're not a blonde.

Top Twenty Places to Start a Family

You've made me backward because the city is too stretched, thin as day, and I am a flume, a fluke, a flounder.

You fire-grilled quail & liver, you endive & lamb's lettuce, you Seckel pear & Serrano, you the soft poached egg atop my crouton raft.

We sped off through the browned grass of the San Joaquin to find the registration key, we located the ice machine on the sixth floor, we kissed against the basement doorjamb.

We were Bakersfielded to the marina, testing software, feeding gulls, asking questions about John Green; we were the brown glass bottles to someone else's lips.

We were writing answers for the standardized test, turning clouds to smoke, trekking through the tenderloin, searching for a hazelnut. (You are not a sheriff or a constable.)

We are a glass pipe and ugly in the finest way, we are desperate housewives and a starched white shirt.

We fell together off the bridge that leads to the white sand beach, we couldn't find Sara, we got lost amongst the rocks and lichens.

We slept together off the plaid comforter, off the 3 am, off the Tao of your back, your children's pants.

O old hotel O Bing Crosby Xmas waif, I see you sunburnt in Coronado.

We were splotches of paint. We were a postcard from one coast to the other.

In the bottom of our favorite wedding photo your tiny hands against a stump, a mural, a fragrant redwood, my best Diego Rivera.

You are not the Burnside Bridge, or the Hawthorne, not the Coit Tower, not Union Square.

I am not Bob Kaufman, not Rich Molnar, not a flinger of twenty-sided dice, not a wearer of skirts, not a kisser of boys (at least not often), not a folk singer.

You are not Patsy Cline. Not a supermodel. Not a Mason jar, not a fragile poet. Not a Claire Huxtable, not a schoolmarm. Certainly not Emily Dickinson.

We are an infant system, a blinking sign that reads “Cocktails,” another boring list poem.

You are the stone in my left hand and softly snoring on the left side of my bed, a ring in the side of your nose.

Poet's Biography:
  Anthony Robinson lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he teaches college courses in composition and literature. He is a founding editor of the poetry journal The Canary and has served on the staff of the Northwest Review for the past five years. His poetry has appeared in print journals such as Forklift Ohio, Lungfull!, Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, ZYZZYVA, and on the web at Octopus, No Tell Motel, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, and other places. He recently completed his second full-length manuscript of poetry, Wintered, which is looking for a publisher. He tries not to write love poems — they just come out that way. His blog, Geneva Convention, can be found at

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