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dorenrobbins.com



Doren Robbins, poet, mixed-media artist, and educator
The poet Thomas McGrath has said that Robbins’s work is unified by both anger and love.  Other critics and reviewers have compared him with Francois Villon, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Henry Miller, and Gerald Stern, writers whose work is equally intense.  Indeed, Robbins is an ecstatic poet whose vision is uncompromised, whose poems are rich with extraordinary attention paid to the often undocumented, ordinary lives that deserve it.  His is a deeply rooted devotion, as is evident from his first collection of poems.”

               Andrea Hollander Budy
      
Encyclopedia of Ethnic American Literature
 


dorenrobbins.com

poet, mixed-media artist,
and educator
“The poet Thomas McGrath has said that Robbins’s work is unified by both anger and love.  Other critics and reviewers have compared him with Francois Villon, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Henry Miller, and Gerald Stern, writers whose work is equally intense.  Indeed, Robbins is an ecstatic poet whose vision is uncompromised, whose poems are rich with extraordinary attention paid to the often undocumented, ordinary lives that deserve it.  His is a deeply rooted devotion, as is evident from his first collection of poems.”

                    Andrea Hollander Budy
                           
Encyclopedia of Ethnic American Literature
 

dorenrobbins.com


Doren Robbins poet, mixed-media artist, and educator
"The poet Thomas McGrath has said that Robbins’s work is unified by both anger and love. Other critics and reviewers have compared him with Francois Villon, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Henry Miller, and Gerald Stern, writers whose work is equally intense. Indeed, Robbins is an ecstatic poet whose vision is uncompromised, whose poems are rich with extraordinary attention paid to the often undocumented, ordinary lives that deserve it. His is a deeply rooted devotion, as is evident from his first collection of poems.”

Andrea Hollander,

from the Encyclopedia of Ethnic American Literature

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You can edit text on your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box a settings menu will appear. Selecting 'Edit Text' from this menu will also allow you to edit the text within this text box. Remember to keep your wording friendly, approachable and easy to understand as if you were talking to your customer


A Few New Poems
Ode to Barbeque

They were hitching over the hill for barbecue,
they craved barbecue, right when he mentioned it
the craving between them merged.
They had the white-lettered paint
craved-for black barbecue menu on the wall
in their minds,
going over the possibilities of the pleasure on the tray
coming to them.
The same sauce in two mouths.
They never had bad barbecue over the hill.
Always something remarkable chomping into oak fired meat down to the bone,
sweet potato pie down to the crust crumbs.
“Eat a cloned pig if it was sauced right up to my taste,” she said.
He was thinking after
finishing ravaging a chicken rapidly taking the white bread over
the remains on the plate.
She was ready for nothing but pork, how she would overtake
the finished ribs for
anything she missed and the luscious charred parts saved till the end
and staying
and drinking more coffee and sucking the sauce burnt last
skin side of a chicken wing
he saved, always left till the end. And how they’d be slightly
bloated, the way
they liked it. And George W. Bush, his cabinet, congress and lackeys­­, the world’s
cattle rustlers and the world’s
posse wrapped into one crowd, the which came first chicken or the egg riddle
wrapped into one defeated answer
would be far from their minds for half an hour
so high up as
they might be on barbecue pork and chicken cornbread collard greens sauced beans
sweet potato pie potato salad
cheese mac and coffee with chicory making it black as can be.
Out of this mood he asked himself could he
live a different life. That chicken and that egg riddling him, if there was an
epiphany in the impasse
after the eating and withdrawing were done.
There really wasn’t one you know. The emptied plate, the relinquished desire,
the regretted or contented recollected outcome
after the other one…
Figuring through his bills and change if there was enough
to bring back an extra pie. Then figuring
the problem that one of his legs had in fact changed in the way he was conscious
of the problem of lifting
and returning the foot part in a safe manner to the ground part,
and the problem of it
starting again over what looked like spent gravel, whether or not it was spent.
Not going to make it through the ice today. That went through his mind.
I’m narrow enough, he thought, I understand the favoritism enough
I don’t understand the whim of procedure at all.



Younger Sister

Sometimes she hears me, sometimes
she doesn’t give a damn.
The you that reaches a match-packet across the table
to a cannery worker.
She reeks of the cannery,
weak watermelon wash
in her hair,
listening on and off
to the earphone headpiece device.
She’s an old twenty,
not a whore.
The same hairnet sagging
nightshift schedule that makes
her slouch,
revitalizes her,
at twenty, when that still happens,
when you have a kind of
elevating reserve and you don’t completely know
what’s happening when it’s happening to you beyond the impact,
but you are dogged about
withstanding it
and you don’t betray the fact.

Sometimes she’d call me and recount her talks
at the VA or one of the teen
foster home facilities,
presentations about beaten children drugs and the rest.
I admired her, I listened digging my fingernail
into a book cover.

She’d say sometimes you couldn’t
get off heroin enough.
And you drive.
One time she pulled over somewhere on Topanga Canyon Road.
A few homes standing far apart.
She told me she started thinking about the nurse
who’s your last mother, maybe
your only mother, someone
without complaint willing to be
your mother, has to be your mother.
And you'll need that mother.
She’s going to smell from the sponge and cloth
she cleans you with.
Maybe she’s going to smell
from chemo morphine sweat.
And it’s all gratitude
putting your face on that hand,
that last mother,
and it’s going to be a stranger,
and that hand might be indifferent.

From our table I could see
a tall avocado tree in a yard
that bordered the train tracks.
I found her avocado lapping
two leaves, her green doll
with a sun mark on her coat,
on her intimate hill, not a lost hill.

                     First appeared in PoetryBay.com



Dolphy

I already had like no trust in him
     regarding certain combinations
          animal and human since

he believed sax'n' flute man Eric Dolphy
     was a kind of mockingbird.
          He read from a liner note Dolphy learned

undefined melodies
     from listening to mocking birds.
          Eric Dolphy,
           
his name alone,
     a musical signal wash of sound,
          never made again.

The only mockingbird in my mind
     is the one I saw leap vertically
          three feet something off a television

antenna, then straight down straining
    crown feathers, stretching complete throat-roots and tendons,
         the burst of its music convincing me.
Never mind of what.

                   First appeared in Spillway




More Nature The Better

In the meantime the siren you aren’t aware
you’re sailing to.
In the meantime more graves in two years
than villagers.
Drugbeat veterans panhandling downtown.
In the meantime, the meantime
till you get a boil on your ass worrying to pay off the last couple fistfuls
of dirt
tossed down on the rest of you in your resting place—of all the
whiskeyed-over euphemisms—
you won’t be at rest. Who wants to be? Isn’t that a given?
In the meantime
the more nature the better.
The more hotels,
munitions factories,
banks that own the property which is also the sea. 
The more nature the better.
You don’t know what it’s all about even after you know what it’s all about.
You get into that held-down position,
you get into that listening to ash breasted sparrows and the voices
fled from them
in the Torrey pine. And you follow the wings out of the branches.
Even while infamy
becomes the central industry, even while social-self-disgust is denied as a central truth,
you follow them
into the ocean park plum tree––not one petal there yet untinged––not one blossom
yet came loose––not one repose
left unexpressed.  

                     First appeared in 5 AM



“For Us, It Wasn’t Vietnam”  

Might as well be up the street
from Pickwick Bookstore in Hollywood

again, where I went to score some grass,
surrendered my head, the thinner twin telling me

again about dropping his syringe
on the Pix movie theater floor,

spilled and spit-out cola who knows
what else and still using it.

Listening to him you think there’s
no way out of self-ravagement.

The monster’s body in him,
the man’s body in him,

William Blake’s “Ghost of a Flea” in him,
what it looked like for him where he was going,

no way to stop the face nodding
over the map it made for you.

And you want to out-distance that map,
you want the room and you want

the seven foot door in that room
you last saw that side of yourself in

to stop bleeding.
I watched that guy eat his blame, burn his spoon

in awful peace, the dog with his tail bandaged
(from what, I didn’t ask) warming his feet.

His brother said, “I know Birmingham,
and I know Bombingham,

for us it wasn’t Vietnam.”
He was loaded, loaded enough.

We drove out to San Fernando
to hang seventeen doors.

Inside the owner’s apartment he was
unaware of the way he stood, the way

he leaned forward like he was fighting
a tide going out, holding the back of

a chair, pricing the extra work. 
The apartment owner pointed

at a gash on the table. He wanted to know:
could we fix that too. Sure we can fix it.

“Is it bad?” Yeah, it’s bad, but I’ll make it
so even you wouldn’t know where it was.

But I’ll know.  

Might as well be back in that apartment––
the man who pulls over to clean

the skunk off the road allegory,
get back inside and drive to their place

up from Pickwick after work
allegory. There was a television

on the floor with the back panel taken off,
it looked torn off

and left intentionally that way––
the imploded moods allegory.

From the entry I heard
a reversing drill and nail pullers taking

things apart but no one there
when I reached the apartment.

Not them or the dog
but some dog barking. Not their dog.

A neighbor boy next door leaned out
talking in the middle of a monologue

saying he could take care of it insisting
he wanted to take care of it, asking me

my name and if I was the man that came
to buy the dog.

                 First appeared in Caliban.com

To The Veras, Ode to Nazim Hikmet

If it’s not Vera then who is it stirring the broth
in his mind––in the cold shelter––hut of his blood––“terrorist” cell?
You figure out your own light company in there,
figure it out or you’re lit up––hooked up––generator cables––both ends.
You see the stove without the name of a country stamped on it.
That’ll be the day. If a stove could produce manure or parallel park. 
And I’ll be making an ode to broth on that same stove,
or to cast iron, or the clay of China,
to brick and mortar,
to Guantanamo because Guantanamo updates him,
to a prison cell,
to the clothes you live in,
the stove that will do,
the burner that makes it go––
to Vera’s thick hand lifting the ladle private
in a husband’s fantasy,
or a wife’s fantasy,
a bone broth prison fantasy
To Vera setting down the big bowl,
and the common fact of dipping the spoon––
a poet making his inquiries,
dipping the spoon––
to the phrase of immediacy and the juice of rhythm,
to the uterus of sound––Django Reinhardt sullen or sweet Jim Hall;
to the plant life of the mind some poets water with their moods,
to the surge at the end because half of what’s rare is undefined until the end;
to the prisoner working in there,
the sensations in there,
twenty years after his arrest for a book of poems accused of inciting
the Turkish people––that it were still true for us now––
the easily deceived and betrayed he said he wrote for,
it’s to them,
wherever it is,
whatever subway or bus stop you wait at,
you just have to look around.

                  From the collectiong Odes And Testimonies


Dylan Thomas

Fulfillment is uncomfortable, fulfillment is uncontrollable.
What is it that Dylan Thomas told of a “weather’s wind…”
“that through the green fuse drives the flower” drove
his green age––but maybe it’s a kind of holding on
to a stanching force and it rots the expression
in your mouth.

Maybe it doesn’t or can’t
open without insisting restraint.
The way a lot of people like it.
No wonder.
––The polite passionate poem
inside a constricted throat.
What a fountain throat
he might’ve had
instead of a packaged mouth
for a fuddled audience.
The half-panting kind.
The dying to stay there,
Some of them
Mystified consumer types.
Such a person
who might’ve been a wizard eight-hundred years ago
was taken from us.
Not the last on the punitive list.
Is there a punishment for exuberance gene?
Is it a lifelong striving to overcome
a fatal indifference
or a lifelong indifference to overcome
a fatal passion?
No can find. You can die
constricted at both ends.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into it.
And how do you completely trace it
getting that far out?
The rabbit’s eyes dwell
on the fox’s paws.
Some people contradict the proverb;
some people can’t look at the riddle.
It’s the definite sensation,
the way the altered rhythm
of a branch looks bent underwater.
And I walk hard in my own rhythm.

                        First appeared in Iowa Review