Issue 2 — 

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

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American History

Love makes us foolish.
You gave it up for ten prime years,
kept your own sad counsel.

And I? I flitted about like a dog
pent up in the house all day
then let suddenly loose in the yard

to sniff and piss, to run zigzags
from one scent to the next.
I pretended to have the memory of a dog,

living only for the present,
a new scent and I'm off again.
Ben Franklin said a single man

is the odd half of a pair of scissors.
You went like that, ten years,
hopping on one leg.

And I? I discovered one half
is still a blade, and even alone
can make a nasty cut.

First appeared in Dickinson Review.
Copyright © 2005 by Kim Roberts.


In a break in the trees where the stream
winds through, they slant in, too ethereal
to be stripes, although there are two—

no, three—distinct beams shimmering,
suspended in a honey mist.

I think of those religious paintings
of the Virgin ascending, or the saints
transformed by light at the exact moment
of their worst trial.

Those beams are always wrong:
solid, sculptural, too heavy
to hang on air, or a different sort of dangerous:
like a crown of yellow knives.

Not this porous curtain.
It appears and disappears. Against the slant of light,
the trees look gorgeous, greener, more themselves:
the clarity of color,
the distinct outlines of individual leaves.

Although it’s not light we see after all,
but bits of dust and dirt
around which light coalesces.

Portraits of saints are poor representations
of the transfiguring moment.

We only see what blocks
the light—the suspended matter—
the obstacles that glow with stubborn fire.

First appeared in Minimus.
Copyright © 2005 by Kim Roberts.


I remember a hillock or white mound
with a moat. Then it collapsed
in the middle and turned clear
and bubbled.
That was the only time
he was truly patient, holding the flame
under the spoon, watching the powder
turn liquid, from the edges in.
Then he laid down the lighter,
cradled the spoon in a dish towel
and delicately
clasped the syringe.
He had a style to it,
a technical expertise.
Push the air out of the shaft,
then slowly suck the liquid
through the needle.
Almost languid.
The rest was rough: securing
the plastic strip tightly
with his left hand and his teeth,
the slap
that made his veins rise,
bruised and pockmarked. And the way
he pushed the needle home.

I remember days his eyes sank inward
like a well whose depth
could not be measured.
I remember
everyone else in the kitchen
talking, carrying on.
I guess you can get used to anything.
But I couldn’t help but stare. I was 18.
He was no older, my boyfriend’s
He could be intimate
sometimes, sweet and boyish:
like how he sniffed my hair
fresh from a shower, or the time he told me
that he could never return to Paris,
now that he’d learned
to eat ketchup on his potatoes,
now that America had ruined him.

Copyright © 2005 by Kim Roberts.


Kim Roberts is the editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. The author of a book of poetry, The Wishbone Galaxy, individual poems of hers are also included in numerous print anthologies, such as American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon University Press), Cabin Fever (The Word Works, Inc.), Hungry As We Are (Washington Writers Publishing House), Poetic Voices Without Borders (Gival Press) and The First Yes: Poems About Communicating (Dryad Press), as well as CDs such as 31 Arlington Poets (Paycock Press) and Poetry Alive at Iota (Minimus Productions). She has published widely in literary journals throughout the USA, as well as in Canada, Ireland, France, and Brazil.

Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the DC Commission for the Arts, and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC. She has been awarded writers' residencies at ten artist colonies: Hidden River Arts, The Artists' Enclave at I-Park, New York Mills Arts Retreat, The Millay Colony for the Arts, The Mesa Refuge, Ragdale Foundation, Ucross Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

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