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Poetry by Robley Whitson
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Learning to Speak

A word, itself the whole sentence, but a verb only action pure action; no subject no object, never modified; a verb unchanging, no past or future, no over-and-gone, no not-yet —- never that! Forever. We did not then know what Forever meant —- means. For the ever that is this day year moment —- For the ever that is not all of them together.
All of them one, one only —- So no of-them. The Forever That is this one held embraced kissed — that is this one mouth one breath one flesh — that is not an everyone, anyone. The Forever that is Me. Me only. Both of Me. So: Us Me. Me only. Both of Me. So: Us

Crazy Man

Crazy man in a crazy town striding down the sidewalk talking to someone: urgent, urgent —- talking into a red telephone with the cord trailing behind plugged into nowhere, red phone hot-line: urgent, urgent — veering over to some curbside cans and pulling off the clatter lids. Five cans full of great stuff! Call you back... All right... Keep you on hold... Gotta talk to the garbage now. Urgent, urgent.

People Pictures

Painting in the dark everything night black the black mix of all pigments, the black absence of color. When I finish the last there will be a retrospective, the body of my life work: On wall after wall black on black on black. Everyone will be there nibbling at exotic tastes, sipping bubbled wine from crystal glasses, and talking ear ache talking in trailed off artspeak sentences without verbs or periods. I will watch from somewhere as they recognize their portraits on the featureless canvas squares. The last of the proto-realists, I paint pictures of people only of people, so I paint in the dark.

Not Yet

Intimately intimidated by a breathing not all my own — as slight as a sigh flowing through the dreams of dry leaves beneath fallen trees — the sign of things said all wrong so long ago, dead but ungrieved — not yet gone off far enough.

Wall Paper

Monotonous dots walk the walls on the faded paper never making up their minds — up or down, or back or forth, or diagonal angle. They seem to search for something hidden in the thicket of wandering rhomboids it might be a simple square dot dot dot dot or the infinities of points that roll sun-stars into fire to spin off round blue worlds and twine helixes into me. I wait for sleep and watch them creating watch them searching while I lie here in plain sight.

Open One Eye

I intend to open an eye — either one first, only later the other. Never both together at once; just one at a time. Otherwise dimensions happen, lines of sight leading off from me to a vanishing point. If I look with both eyes it will be there to see, then the next thing will be to go to it, and into it. And I know there will be no looking back: to where my eyes were closed, and I could dream whatever I wanted, and everything slipped around vanishing points at the last moment, and I could dream on and keep looking back, dream and look.

The Deep of Tears

Unhidden faces seen through streaks of rain, eyes and mouths in wet running lines on glass panes-- eyeing insides of drops escaped from open sky, mouthing overheard words in storms of sounds that fly overhead surrounding infinite bones curved and stretched out articulated into dreams — who distort to stir from sleeps of rain, who ever peer in on us through our smeary windows.