This poem is taken from Stand 226, 18(2) June - August 2020.

Richard Robbins Three Poems
Loving a Woman

Understand the young man does not know he wants to fall and fall and fall until he cannot recognize himself any longer. The air rushes up from under him, each building a blur, even as one face, then another, snap into focus at their windows. Gravity will have its way with him.

The young man does not know a lovely suicide comes first with its awkward quiet, every word a deserter, its one dull thud in the chest. Even if he knew the language, he might not use it.

For this reason, he can only talk with others about his face in her breasts, the nipples hardening, the size of his cock, the damage it could do. It’s a story told by firelight, the owls and coyotes singing across the dark surface of night. It’s a story that keeps the other beasts away. It puts the boy in him to sleep.

In this way, he will separate from his mother, even as he does not know he wants to fall back into her.

Still, sometimes in dream, all the gear ratios dissolve and his hands turn to water on the face of someone beside him. Then her body turns to rain. Then they fall from the sky inside the same storm. All through the day, the dream will make him tired.

For all of his life, days have moved forward or backward. Even now, the road unfolds from the horizon as he crosses the Mojave toward the next great city of light. The hard edge of curb and door stay the same. The palm trees survive their drought and the cars running into them. He never changes his name.

Still, the sky wheels above, and the ground manufactures holes for the innocent to fall into. Understand he will never suppose this. He prays to the god who is around the corner, waiting at the roadside café. He could never imagine a god who might wear the disguise of earth. He would never suppose that where the fault lines met he might find a door to the next world.


‘The Last Supper’
— a painting by Stanley Spencer, 1920

Even light is made of wheat, their bowls
heaped with something like small cubic stones
made of grief. And the malting does not end
under that floor or in the great cowls

steered into wind on the oast house roof.
After noticing the legs stretched out
...
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image