Academic Retreat


bland ennui

podium drones

chittering cadres

splintering styrofoam


blank figures

tedium’s bones


legume enumerators


blunt stylus

medium’s cones

somnolent sputter

dreary enervation


by William B. Robison   



Divine Confection


Once my mother made a big plate of divinity

and I said to my brother, bet you can’t eat just one.

Well, we fell out laughing, thinking about the time when

we bought a bag of chips from the sexy checkout girl

and kept making jokes coming home from the grocery


cracking up and wondering how the Lays lady lays

with a cautious nod to the copyright attorney

and all due apologies to Mister Bob Dylan,

though a man who makes his living from clever wordplay

can hardly complain whenever it crops up elsewhere.


That’s especially true because he dropped his real name

for his birth certificate reads Robert Zimmerman

and I wonder: what if his favorite poet were

Robert Frost instead of the thirsty Dylan Thomas,

unstoppering by a snowy wood when he got dry?


Would he now be Robert Robert, and wouldn’t people

have confused him early on with Robbie Robertson?

Or perhaps to avoid that, he would have a nickname:

not Boss or King or Slowhand, but something evoking

a singer of poetry—maybe Oral Roberts


But, oops, that would be even worse because there is that

pompadoured Oklahoma preacher, once the healer

of arthritic elbows and the occasional plague

of boils afflicting the odd Old Testament martyr

to whom Bildad appeared with a shopping cart laden


with lizards, locusts, and stinging scorpions and said

Take this, Job, and shove it, but the tiny wheels bogged down

in sand, leaving him lamenting to leprous laymen

I’ll bet you this never happened to Jeremiah!

Meanwhile, in the eighties, Dylan found the messiah


But it was floral moral Oral who said he saw 

a hundred foot Jesus saying: raise me more geetus.

Now, I’m no dyspeptic skeptic, but I’ve never seen

Jesus at all, though I feel his presence at Christmas

Still, if his standing height in yards was the same as his


age when he hung on the cross, you could get him to hold

up your TV antenna, and I’ll bet you would get 

immaculate reception. Of course I’d be cautious,

though I’m not sacrilegious, about standing too close

for fear of the lightning . . . but really I’m not worried


If God hurled thunderbolts like mythical Zeus, He might

take a shot at preachers for profit, who fudge truth and

fiddle the books like Nero selling fire insurance

But God lets us make our  mistakes and have some fun, too

Ben Franklin, our frequently foundering father, said


beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us

to be happy, and I would hasten to agree, though

Franklin’s faith was not my own, for he was mere Deist

not a Eucharistic fellow with chips for his brew

and thus never tasted my Mother’s divinity


by William B. Robison 





boney anorexic soul has no breath

no intake at all, its exhalation

is only the gasp of the punctured corpse


stake in the breast of the vampire yielding

a pitiful puff of fetid staleness

even the putrefaction half-hearted


too little essence for a full-fledged stink

skin like the sun-dried membrane of bat’s wings

stretched out thinly over bones so tightly


that a pinprick, unleashing fierce surface

tension, might fling fleshless flaps skittering

o’er skeleton, ripped cello-wrap beating


hasty retreat from desiccated meat

balloon stuff fraying round a vacuum void

vaporless vault of the leathery shrew


no sweat, no tears, no mucus, no moisture

none of the warm wetness of womanhood

blood congealed, condensed, evaporated 


even her venom a fine dry powder

her slithering the sound of sandpaper

scraping crass across a rough surfaced stone


so little like women damp with desire

or kissed with chastity’s milder juices

lachrymal in laughter, languor, or lust


dabbed, licked, lapped up, but never wiped away

unafraid to lactate, expectorate

perspire, no bleached sinews or oil-less hair


breathing visible heat in the chill air

tiny droplets of spirit escaping

ectoplasm distilling its essence


lovers soak up this liquor like sponges

in the meantime, seedless, the arid husk

parches in her non-porous poverty


by William B. Robison 





the woman drinks milk

in a Chinese restaurant

says Derrida is

becoming an ethicist

barely touches her

dish of spicy lobster sauce

crawfish and onions

deconstructed for nothing


by William B. Robison 





At dusk

in the dirt

near the mouth

of the tomb


the wrappings

of Lazarus


in ecstasy


A slight figure


whisks them



in the current

till fingertips

are sanguine

spreads them

on a rock

to dry

in the morning


Later she


her brother’s bowl


the cup Martha


on the table and


up the crumbs


by her visitor


by William B. Robison 





The troubadour has got no horse

so he rides to his gigs on a minstrel cycle

to fortnightly ovations and

all the roast meat he can carry on a dagger


The acrobats hang upside down

tumblers half fool, naked juggler vainglorious

fat clowns send up tight wirewalkers

the ragged trampoline springs a trapeze artist


In the land Budapest controls

at a mineral spa for well-hung Aryans

Dan’s ignoble Lord of Gdansk

shows his steps to ill cons on Lion Tamer Lane


Full tilt a whirling dervish

curves nervously, swerves, observes no perversions but

ecdysiasts in Gaza strip

and Persian rug rats scare Indian elephants


Through the door comes the troubadour

jester in the vesture besmirches the churches

misrule measures its meter but

the inverse poet is averse to reverses


by William B. Robison 


William Robison teaches history at Southeastern Louisiana University; writes about early modern England, including The Tudors in Film and Television with Sue Parrill; is a musician and filmmaker; and has poems accepted by Amethyst Arsenic,, Anemone Sidecar, Apollo’s Lyre, Asinine Poetry, Carcinogenic Poetry, decomP magazinE, Forge, Mayday Magazine, On Spec, and Paddlefish.



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