Robert Lietz


     How many menus     /solitudes     /sufficiencies
repelled     -- walls     repelled
mis-drawn light?   And how many hands     -- that
might have ranged
in gathering     -- shut out     the morning     lapping
/ asking over the cream sills.  How many ways    
one world     conspired     to shrink the needs     -- to    
endorse the information at a meal     -- letting
the guest appearances     -- the corresponding --  
personalized within     -- the instructions
settle out     as namesakes

      We see what we’ve understood     / made safe --
running this certain course     -- this way
to the pine-groves and coded privacies     -- letting
November strip the green rise  and the incline --
the fox-winds nullify     -- transforming    the sweet
old news     flagging     on the kiosks --
the stuff of the first snows     / these notes on hooves
and takes on the house salsas     -- the harmonic --  
and     reasonable     no less    -- distributions
flattening    -- no less than time    -- than
the billfolds flattened     -- after
all the living in. 

     See     what     we’ve understood    / made safe --
weathering the lengths     -- assuming
the cloister     / studio     -- the choirs     vectoring
in shut rooms     -- opened     in
minds made alien     / in minds mis-taking lengths --
until the rooms and streets were no where
to be studied     --  and     the shops     we’d sewn
along Protection Avenue     -- no less
in evidence    -- left     spans     and     lifts of span
as subjects to consider      -- this board-cut
cactus     silhouette     in a grey field     -- this
backdrop     ridge-line     grey
transmuting     the snowbound influence --
and     these memories     to tell --
where two expected much    
     and got.


     There might have been one time     -- but eighth grade
wasn't it     -- impressing an audience with weights --
     and    -- more the point    -- with ways of handling an effort. 
Had I done more than ruin one shoulder with kid's play --
     seeking the missing light     -- legs locked beneath the work
and learning how to listen?  So little's really changed.  And
     afternoons like these     -- a little off the record     -- pursuing
this keybright throb     -- or field-dust     -- stirred up
     by mercury in sportscleats     -- so little's changed     -- for all
of the silence     / the light installed in reading rooms    
     / the stillness abused on the glass stairs a kid was turning
into levels.  Here is the distance heart resists     -- and
     boy's play     -- making some years seem worth the interest -- 
lost as the lines were lost     -- turning     the heads
     we thought had never meant to notice     -- true     as the lines
seemed once     -- until the planet settled them.  
     Reason to simplify     / let go     -- moved     by the unruled    
many-laving     tellings     -- surprised     by a morning
     cool enough     -- by the barn-snow     / willow-cover     -- by
the local light made new     -- and by the mornings afterward --  
     made gradual and snug     -- by Dreams     -- in their patient
studied forms     -- in a house made calm     -- in
     all that a broadcaster's been up to     -- worth     the interest --  
until the voice conceives     --  and     then     the voice
     comes severally     -- confounding     a house     made calm --  
one weight     / one time     -- in dramatizing portions --  
     one rising light and one more household as conveyance.  And
eighth grade wasn't it.  Days the stations interfered.
     Days expenses     -- figured close to bone     -- might well be
raised to light     --  in rooms     where     love
     was made emphatic with its options     -- leaving     a man
this heft     -- cutting     his tracks    through --
     this barn-snow     / willow-cover     -- this great  ground left
a single man to cover     -- imagining fifty as some charm --
     some smoking candlelamp.  There might have been one time --  
or so I've liked to think of it     -- before the terrible referees --
     something more     than     all     these hanging milestones -- 
than a father in the thick    -- tone-deaf and wrong --
     mouthing the words as asked     -- leaving     these ghosts
of love     -- these gifts in the retrievals    -- these legs
     a father's locked against the missing light and vacuum --  
standing himself to stretch some luck     -- to stand
     and spit against the engines     -- a world     in motion
as that seems     -- filling a place with guests
     he never had invited     -- with their proficiencies
/ their strict obsesssions with the joke-books,
     with the expenses late love figured
          close to bone.


                                                When she danced like that and no one
                                     thought of closing time

     What     did you need     from this
or think to make up lingering --
     seeing     through     common leaves
November in high branches?
     Wings brush the troughs     -- wings
lift     -- into     this rain
     without     -- with     only     a little wind --
September say     -- in
     an     undecided     time     -- the houses
for blocks     laid bare     -- in
     the green     / fade-green     / the grey light
come     -- entangled
     with the sky view     -- describing our lives
a little like     -- and     -- here --
     in the curbed pools     -- more     silent
than the thinking     -- bringing
     a gaze to pass      /a lesson     two     might
well be grateful after --
     lost     in    the local smoke     -- the ways
someone     more local
     made up     ground     by her gyrations --
drawn     in the old ways     out    
     by     cubisms     / by     the body     -- by
what could be done on air
     and     any other     tablet!  To     think
you were scared
     almost     alive!     -- to     think     how
the cowled and shuddering parts
     / the jewelry     seemed     more personal --
directing      the sidearm     lusts --
     that second thinking     / third     -- a little
afraid to take the leaven     -- and
     nothing     your eye     could add to that --
yourself     more amateur --
     the scaffold tracks     in the bright smoke --
add     to     the brightness
     closing down     -- where you were let go
from your nightmare     -- cold
     enough     for furnaces     -- let     into
the memory of light --
     the tracks of light     become     a parody
of cursives.   You'd call this
     mid-September once     -- with     more
for     you     in store                                                                          
     than rise and fall     could compromise --
revealing this clapboard
     here     / this place     at the foundation --
this     Protection Avenue --
     this rain like a pure device     -- a signal
worked out     with the neighbors --
     assuming a motion naturally     -- assuming
the next few words
     the rain lets over you     in whispers --
as even the leaves catch on
     and     one     --  for     all     the matchbook
surfaces     -- in     rings
     / pierced parts     -- in rings and rings
and     research    
     into     traffic     -- among the rows of light
along Protection Avenue --
     a bride-aged     woman     exercised --
leaving     the mind    
     its     lofts     / the heart     its Saturdays --
the bells     set up    
     to toll     in neighboring dimensions --
implied in the moving air --
    the rows of light     you'd not thought
offered in such colors     -- and
     in the rain     -- panesful     -- and
in     dissenting
     atmosphere     -- the abreactions     
     and     brought     to measure
on the hard-disks
     alone     -- you think     -- were
it not for relatives --
     not    for the dining guides --
the courted light let play
     along Protection Avenue --
with neither the device
     /the recompense     -- to
leave     you
     more     or less
/ but older.


     Then     I am to know     this     over with?    
At least     (in some ways )     sure --
in some of the first ways sure     -- by how many
times a night     -- discovering
the waters     warm enough     and     cool winds
in the sheeting     -- sea-voiced --
sea-changed by love     -- well-gotten     / flushed
and moved from the first greetings. 
Then     I am to know this     over with?  Leaving
me worth    -- responsibly?     -- leaving
me simpler      / let slip     -- and     more or less
for the old waters     / the old and rushing parts --
and for parts as two we never quite made good on--   
flushed as they'd been     -- mischanced --  
permissions we could trade on     -- could settle
as expected and expected strange.  
What could I say unsoured and unscented politics? 
Would I admit instead?  Would I rebuild --  
in these cold structures     -- the sheets themselves --  
poems themselves     -- for all their nightmare
origins     -- in these disasters     counted down --  
some of the toughest stuff made tell     -- made
heart     / made perishing     -- made
risky solitude     -- silent again     -- because
she's asked     -- witholding     out of love --
love     on its blades     made course
this night-lit     frosted     pour     -- bright
in its winter gear     -- bright    
with      these figures     skaters cut    
/ with     their     enduring

     Maybe it's the chicken parts     / wax beans
/ the important cannisters     -- unequal
to the heat     -- or her delight     in second teas --
and in these last sips then     -- almost
as afterthoughts     -- there     -- with this one thing
more     -- these thrice-repeating gestures. 
Would I re-live again     -- because     the chill
inspires it     -- the teas and wines
/ the chocolated improvisation     -- a     tempted
and used machine     -- considering
the ways good love becomes divided over try-outs? 
Wouldn't I wait ten lifetimes out --
a man with something up     / risking himself to be
another subject for denial     -- something
he'd hardly guessed     would be brought low
by her indifference     -- having appeared
in sympathy     / having been drawn in travel plans --
and nothing     I guess     the winter shirts
protect against     -- nothing     these best friends
tell     -- feeling    the cold     themselves
where weather drops in off the water     -- under
the mind-rouge cloud     -- waiting
her pleasure still     -- waiting this kindness
dreams would make of distances --   
deciding what's been cut     / what would be
true and drawn on     -- drawn away
to its own home     -- in the homeland
of the angels     -- to     the pins
where     mages     dance    
and rages multiply.


     The morning's coffee screams
in the first blue light
     / in the blue rain of explanations --
and     as     the poems
     made    afterward     -- too many
maybe and once    -- take
     on     the tourist moons     -- dealt
modularly you think    
     and understood as an annoyance --
and    -- in the embedded light --   
     take on their first communion
in     hot countries --
     Could you imagine not allowed?
Could you endure
     club drinks     --  kids disinclined
to have their old men
     in the pictures     --  two years
 alone     -- and     love
     reduced     to     the confusions
you'd agreed on --
      to ladlings     / to soupspoons
/ ladlings     --  the alien earth
      beneath     and     convalescent
in abstractions     --  two
     years alone     -- letting your hands
down into currents     -- and
      just     to be near     one bride --
and     -- once     -- to be touched
     by that first love     -- dressed
with the cognac and desire  --
     dressed with the stars two hearts
 had drawn and admired
     with the stars hearts put to bed
in sharing glances?  What
     were you doing when times fell
/ when the news came up --
     the array     of     mercies asked
by someone in your favor --
     correcting the damage done --
the deep white scratches
     into teal     -- the days as days
would hang on surplusses --
     or     hang     in the skewed air
and camera-ready crimsons --
     alive in the plots on furniture --
with the faces     that seemed
     too much    for gazing     once --
pleased to have asked    
     and pleased for one more
chance     / as it was


Copyright ©  2009 Robert Lietz

Robert Lietz has over 500 poems that have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, including Agni Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah.  Seven collections of poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press,). At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press,) The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service (Basfal Books).  Basfal also published After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems .

He has completed several print and hypertext (hypermedia) collections of poems for publication, including Character in the Works: Twentieth-Century LivesWest of Luna PierSpooking in the RuinsKeeping Touch,  and Eating Asiago & Drinking Beer. 

Besides the print publication, poems have appeared in several webzines, including:

Quasar Review ( The Salt River Review ( 2River Review ( Terrain (
The Alsop Review (
The Alsop Review
Istanbul Literature Review:
The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online:
Arch Literary Journal

A netsearch for Robert Lietz will provide a more comprehensive selection.