what can Robinson generate?
It’s too soon to feel surly about finding a salary, but the Chelsea costs three dollars a day.
Combs the classifieds, drinks his coffee.
He’s been reclassified: Selective Service 3A.
Must he fake standing moist-eyed beneath the flag?
Didn’t even bring his typewriter to the city.
Likely to be cast in the theater of war.
Hopes he’s mistaken.
Steps outside & 360s midtown looking for a sign—
help wanted he has in mind.
he finds. As in:
Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times
on the Radio Corporation of America Building owned by General Electric.
Makes some mental edits:
Foolishness and hysteria shall be the precariousness of thy times.
Robinson’s feelings about his country are eclectic.
What is it about having them around that gets him so wound up?
Parents. Parent(hese)s. Surrounding him & Ann.
How they spent their sunny Sunday:
Gracefully sailing through an array of pratfalls.
He falls to pacing the bedroom.
Bells in the tower of the church next door bellow the hour.
The Our Father pops into his head unbidden; he is not a pray-er.
Hidden from his family, he contemplates his patronym.
Hymns skim the summer air. Robinson’s composing a patronymic.
Though his father’s name is not Robin—
Though he is not Robin’s son—
Robinson is still Robinson.
He could be re-named, but the backstory can’t be undone.
Robinson’s son’s son’s son & back & back like a mirror facing a mirror & on & on.
Robinson: the robbing son—what’s he taken? What’s he done?
He’s been feeling lately that if he’s not more grateful, he’ll lose what he’s got.
The paterfamilias—graying old man—doesn’t understand him, but is proud nonetheless.
Robinson has no desire to be the pater for any familias.
The loneliness of childhood—shameful condition—
it feels like it will never end & there is no remedy.
Some things are no longer too huge to explain. Why?
Plain & simple: the planes of sand, planes of the sky, planes of the sea. Why?
Their friend, the painter, claims the waves look like ponies. Why?
Robinson remains smooth. Ann’s a boozy confessor.
I see my man from far away. Orion is his name.
She’s in love with someone who’ll never distress her.
I blow him a kiss every night. I call him my guy in the sky.
At this rate, they’ll never wake in time to make their orisons.
To swim the cold sea in the cold morning light.
Tonight they are caparisoned. Richly ornamented in fine beachwear.
Tiny lights bob on the water like candles.
Tiny creatures phosphoresce: incandescent benefaction.
Man of action or of contemplation? Robinson inwardly wishes for more.
But this is an Experience. This is The Life.
His wife becomes spastic. Robinson pleonastic. Too many words.
Every rationalization has its rational side. They collapse with laughter. What’s an ever-after? What are they after?
The stars in the sky: insignias or asterisks?
Where are the footnotes? Nothing makes sense. The tiny lights blink out on the waves: dying. What can save us? Robinson asks, exhaling.
For what kind of reward should we be applying?
KATHLEEN ROONEY is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, and the author, most recently, of the essay collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs (Counterpoint, 2010). Her collection, Oneiromance (an epithalamion), won the 2007 Gatewood Prize from Switchback Books, and her collaborative collection with
Elisa Gabbert, That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness, was published by Otoliths in 2008.