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I’m Sorry, Will Roby, or: Why I’m Not a Language Poet

We lost the rubber of a tire

scouting out a pasture where two horses

melt a little every day

-W.F. Roby



Will, I wither straight

to you, from Atlantic City’s glitz, whatever sin

you live in, clammy hole you’ve dug yourself.  If I heard

your wounded hype just right, at the moment you’re haranguing to a tent

of angry, moonshine sipping gypsies on the state

of bullet trains, the M dash, how umbrellas are suspended

in the sky.  Will, I sigh.  Why, Will Roby, why?  If you’ve really

seen a stallion liquefy, I’ll give you each red cent


in my pink purse, each couplet as they holler

from my mouth.  Here, love, take that

little lyric puff of smoke, the one

where I go down on Bowie, circa ‘85.  I know it’s gauche, but

since you can blow David Bowie in my poem, go on, give

it a try.  He’ll be kind to you, my little W, he’ll stripe

silver shadow down the side of your green eyes.  After, he’ll treat

you to a coffee, pecan pie— some trash diner down below

14th.  Can’t you hear the F train underneath?   So can I.  Listen,


Will, I’m back, a pretty thief, to steal my poem

from your brink.  If you had kept

these lines, they’d end up in that diner’s kitchen sink, where

there’s a baby turtle race, some hot pink heat,

a caterpillar squawking at the moon (who’s slinked

off from her post to grab a drink) and I don’t think

so, I’ll have none of that.  What’s this need to make the world

do what it can’t?  I’m just like, here’s the earth


we’re dealt, its One Night Only! Technicolor glow, look around

you, sweets, it’s the best prime rib you’ll never eat, your one night

stand on that Greek white sand beach, the moon-

light sparking off her caramel tan—why not just call

it like it is?  What’s a little horse sense, struck

between new friends?  & once,


you know, on Valentine’s, an ex & I, we brought

a pineapple to bed.  We were 19, we thought oh, yes,

how erotic, I don’t know why we thought it, guess we both envisioned

its tart dribble down our flawless, baby chins, how its juice would drench

my dorm room’s flannel sheets—sheer

abandon, how delicious!  But, we forgot to buy a knife, back

at the Acme, couldn’t hack inside. & the leaves were tricky

spikes!  That fruit kept us at arm’s length, did we even make

love that day?  I don’t think


we did.  It’s that pineapple that sticks

me in the craw, obtuse & brown.  It would never

make a sound.  Forget the ex, how half the time

he couldn’t get me off, half dozen nudes

he painted of me, silent, staring, in his New York

City loft, below 14th, oh, way below, my dear, we’re talking

Brooklyn, here.  Forget the rendered, faded summer light, orange

on my naked shoulder blades—it makes me yawn.


It’s the fruit we couldn’t crack

that brings it back—his awkward, unrequited love (and unrequited

love can kill you, but he made it through), that’s

the thing, the real, the here & now, that’s my heart-

broke sister out in ‘Frisco, slinging drinks

to pay the bills (she just found out— her lover

& her best friend— in that bullshit city’s shrouded

hipster hills), it’s the way that words


can do their dirty, honest work— look, they whisper, look,

you blinked, you missed it, summer’s done, the light just switched,

it’s fall. Wake up, Will Roby, you might miss it all.

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