Robert Lietz





     Maybe her birthday’s not the time for driving out.

Maybe the green this year      -- re-seeded

     and complete     -- isn’t the shade for this     -- for

the beard     / bloodkin     -- beard’s     worth     

     of baked goods     peddled off the shoulder.  But

the beard at least’s his own     -- the buggy

     and     bloodkin     grilling sausages     -- smoked

with history     -- bare     upper     lip’s    

     his own     -- assumed     as the books     and     tracts

and     estimated chances     -- his     own

     as the stillness seemed to be     -- as     the shadows

flickering     with hair-stays     and     merlot --

     with     cars     he     has thought     to drive himself --

following     horse-sense     back-ways     --  through    

     surveillance     neighborhoods.  Later      it’s     music   

 / universe.  Later     it’s     lamp-oil     / candle-scents 

     / recordings     so crisp     you almost hear the glasses

when they lift     -- whatever     it     means

     to     sow your own     and     get around     -- settlng

your     halves     of field     straight     -- sampling    

     the yard’s     first stars     / these     rabbits     playing

chase     and     catch-up     in the wildgrass.  But

     somebody’s     always     out     -- and     somebody’s    

always     noticing     -- asking     for wine     again --

     because the street    (like all her clip-art) 's     dazzling --

because     the bricked     twelve rooms

     and every owlish detail     / Courtney’s come to less --

laying     her poisons     at the curb     -- bending    

     that way     he thinks   because somebody’s noticing --

imagining     speed     and     flapping thongs --

     weekends in Columbus     -- bikes     she has almost    

wished for them     -- leaving     the buggy     / mare    

     to all     that     smoking history     -- baked     goods

to history     -- and     this     Great Horned owl --

     filling the night-grove with its presence     / graphing

between and still to see     -- until the only sound’s    

     another squirrel with bad dreams     -- an upper lip   

set trembling      -- a carriage     in     moonlight

     now     -- and the carriage boards     -- let     cool

from the day’s heat     -- meaning     someone's     

      home     safe     / someone's     under

           cover     and     night watch.






                                               An autumn wedding toast


     Horizon to horizon, Ohio's opening.  So

many languages ( who could know, )     

      sharing your own and generous inflecting,

and each tune revisited

     and sweet accompanying well-being, each gaze

that sums all gazes counted on. 

     Even as fall hues and the crispness of first cider

change and crisp, as the eye,

     eye-light fix to, fit another's trembling,

another's knowing,

     woven with invention, how could you not seem,

beyond mere likenesses,  

     transfigured, bidden and building on, seem

blessed this season of desire,

     by this miracle, no less, as intent in its own way

as wishing is, as the nearness

     a chalked court or checkered field underscores,

and love, spent well,

     and, moment to moment, its returning,

with all modalities

    transformed, and every open    

explored tuning!




     Then rain, rain, drizzle settling on scrapfires,

left to burn out by the work-crews,

     and this lane-darting buck Ohio forms around,

these greens and golds and flames,

     set off by slants of light when the rain's finished,

when these four, five

     does, advancing  from the groves and stubble

toward the State route,

     my attention set, through miles en route,

on two, and so

     and one essential





     Ryan, Stephanie: revealing at once what is    

/ is not a limit to connecting, let this,


     as every heartsong must, does, in its sustaining,

bless, even as love alight

     in rightness and surprising, and unhidden light

inspiring first readers,

     as even this poem, these lyrics freshenend

by your vows and their retelling,

     inexhaustably ( I think, ) and unmistakably,

when each, love's voice

     and instrument, recalls, rededicates, considers

this actual airy parlor

     there's no crowding, this flatland shrine    

let's say, where two in love    

     approach and know to name it, where words    

will not seem necessary, and

     every joy let go's made more in its returning,

known by heart, by heart     

     and loving well and welcome, to share

in this figured

     happiness, in this make believe

two make them

     selves in the  made





     Lingering leaves catch light, coppers

and golds

     above the fog line reinspired.  Then,

brightening,  last stalks

     and ( brightened ) the large machinery

to either side

     of tracks dividing fields, when the fog's

burned through, and

     the heron waits on time, marking

himself crisp dawns

     and pond-doubled colors, these leaves

and leaves,     

     these long-lying shadows hill dwellers

forever misconsider,

     as the dream-driven vows you'll say

and say ease into being,

     as even this daylight does

two might well share




     in the next century, and two, and two,

building thanksgivings   

     without measure, in this knowledge    

drawn upon, and

     wines and capoed chords and recipes

recalling one early

     New England fall, when two, setting

a kitchen, improvise,

     or, over their coffees say, when     

breakfast's just beginning,

     enjoy the daylight now, re-set by dreams

there's no need telling ,

     and the twilight afterward, sharpened

by viognier

     and the glazed scallops, by the hands

between, the touch / toast

     and still more common  gesturing,

one another's audience,

      in love unmeasureably, toasting    

again and amply, again

     and  then again the many

talents turned    

     and then returned






     What Octobers, Lord, what travels

and rejoining, colors

     past peak but holding on respectably,

as the cross-winds ease,

     and as these dogs emerge from groves    

subtracting changes, 

     the fields around them almost done

except for gleaners,

     after the leaf stripping, stalk

stripping winds

     and     proven








     Let hurry yield its silly pace to promises,

bringing us round-about,

     as the dusk, the low long-lying colors,

and many Ocobers then

     turn richly toward thanksgivings, as even

equipment, afterward and idling,

    then auctioned, serves on new kempt lawns

as decorations, but nothing the kids,

     intent to interest locals with their wheels,

the pre-election politics, playing

     sincerity off smart, will mark or mind, if

minds themselves race off

     on joy-ride, and lines, loves, transfigure    

in your likeness, Ryan,    

     Stephanie, and such mirroring blessed,

from the first and lovely pairings    

     shared by whispers, the first names  paired   

and built to chordings

     and harmonics, with this half-moon now,

come full by your deciding,

     since this is a love-poem, isn't it?, alert  and

many-minded and familiar,

     eyeing tonight ( if not the sun ) another

leaf-fire, and completed after all,

     by these inspired tones, by these lyrics say,

the autumn shares, in

     its engaging, seeded tonight in crackling

cellular modulations, through

     decades, previewed and saved, through

layered redirectings, when

     what becomes of listening will, even then!,

speak its approval, wishing

     you warm and well, wishing you blessed,    

be blessed, when, whatever winter is,

     winter finds you, warm and close, and    

well accustomed, through    

     darkening months when two, who come

to love their fire, when

     two, by eye and ear and touch

make poetry!





  After his team’s reunion, remembering his own and this year’s
                                two-a-days, the lengths of career he studied for and earned
                                another name in, he’s stuck on the road mid-way, when his
                               ’68 Torino calls it quits, whispering his name and theirs
                               to the stillness and race of meteors overhead.


     The restaurant’s caught flat listening.   A husband

proving he can’t sing     -- sensing

his wife’s embarrassment     -- into their fifth beers --

and glad for the stone floors under them. 

So maybe they couldn’t at last count.  But sometimes

you just don’t know     -- chummy

as time’s been     -- what     time     might make    

with     spot-made brews

and whinnyings      -- of big boys with good speed --

happy to chant game scores     -- or    

sweating to feast on veal and their volume --

on the linguine     / shrimp    

and August in these parts     -- smoking

history     -- reading    

the lights     and     minutes    

/ and      the public     

dressed for it.




     Then August showers     rocks and ices on the world.  

And after you’ve heard about so much

/ and after your heart’s agreed to lifting something like --

what could you tell her anyway     -- a man

in pads and metaphors     -- a wife on her own way home --

excited herself     by bricks    

and     the expanse     of the mall acres.  But     when

was this ever gentlemanly     -- ever

step-around and wrap     -- leaving impressions     

the surviving films make something of --

playing inside both ways     -- on special teams

with     something     like

this broken-field quickness     -- nose

-guard    / physicist --

figuring     lifetimes     then   

( as     now )


mass acceleration?





     Because     the beard’s     your own     -- because

the sky has cleared itself     -- because

the ice and rock have burned themselves with entering --

you’re glad remembering     -- glad

for these strong men smiling     -- for the fictions say     

that left you tipsy with resemblance --

till     every     craving’s     likelier     -- driving this way

through mirrors     -- through     all

of the old directories.  So here’s this midnight out. 

And here is this day ahead of you --

because you’ve loved the sound of it     -- and

here’s     this     August     overhead --

this     old dog     simplified     / tried hard --

where it misjudged velocity --

among the barrels arranging lanes --

a dog     -- like     one more

take     on natural     -- on     lives    

( you think )     

spilled down     -- from

galaxies     they’d

wished for.




     What might have been neurons or waltzing quarks --

a century-wide agility --

might have been cars you’d drive yourself --

or     nicknames     -- pending

on bewitched retirements     -- like     one more

kind of doodling     -- they

gather      -- versions     of     sea-change --

/ versions     of     flatland schoolyards

with     words     like your own     -- thick-set --

flecked     as     these stones

that hold     a man’s Torino     on the slope --

as these planets now --

holding     their place      this time    

in the night sky    

east of Canton     -- in winds --

as     your own     words

drift     -- in

scribbles and streaks    

and     even   

hotter     lyrics













     It was nothing to turn     -- because he sensed

her presence then     -- smiling     to seem

so disappointed by sheer wind.  But how’s a mind

to recognize     -- given the tunes and streets

and the full wall of the Pacific     / the naughty brides   

and widest stretch of sentiment?  And

how’s a mind supposed to feel anything     -- kids

tearing up the treads     -- and the locations

doubling     -- the coppery     and     come-gold irises

beginning to look like history     -- opinions

the neighbors prized     then thought the better of?

Maybe     he’d     transferred once    

and found his way through tournaments.  Maybe

that dentist’s jokes     -- folded

in aphoristic hues      -- in surfaces storm-thick

/ in the streets that call back limbs    

love acted on     -- that end as they did 

in downtown shops     -- mean

that a wish went far enough     -- stopping

a man     -- at     Kresge’s

say     -- then     the Mohigan

for desserts --

for     the white tied box    

and     tarts    a kid    

kept     level







     Today would be shooting     / breaking glass.

Today would be trailer zones --

where zoning’s never been an issue     -- a locally

aging veteran     -- chording

and popping times     -- unable to match a face --

evening     his day     with news

and the likes of suppertalk     -- stretching the ways

a man and hound might think of it. 

But not so much a poetry.  And not so much    

that smothering stream of narrative –

but voices alive in the full sense     -- glad

for the little daylight left     -- for

this outskirts woods     / these stars



and picnic table under stars --    

a little coffee still     -- and    

all     that     a man    

has come     to think    

     as natural.





     The rhododendron’s bulging and the dogwood’s getting green.

And here’s this first place after all --

these painted arrows leading in     -- these     breezes

warning him to turn     -- working    

his way through fronts     -- through pictures of France

and league events     -- and    

any other once    -- inviting     the players

still     -- imagining     the sounds   

where lakes and cribsongs







     He’s thinking this somehow in one life     -- thinking   

these walls the light walked on     / walked through    

might close on him again     -- unable to match the face    

/ the brick add-ons and features of confusion    

/ the dreams of women when the traffic’s picked them up --

stories the heart insisted on     -- creaturely

and aged     -- given     these lips     and limbs    

abuzz with medications --

achieving some nerve in spite of it     -- now   

that he’s been addressed 

and     been required     by the judges --  

scaled     to common coin    

and     all     that

sleekness     / setting





     Maybe     he’s made     some peace with that.  But

what’s a man to think     -- the school-bus shed    

made blaze     -- and all that he’d ever need to get to --

writing his futures in such flames     -- in     loops

of smoke     and     loops of smoke     and     greenery --

in these common stories     -- such as first love

started with     -- ordered off and ordering     -- candling

the dark     / that sleekness and struck stone --

the singers and dogs gone wrinkling     -- and     these

hill-fiddlers     -- where     walls     were

all and airier     -- gone over ruts he thinks     -- blowing

the tires in old times     -- bringing their skills to bear  

on contempo instruments.  And what’s a man to think    

/ a man to play     -- seeing     his points

made     tangibly     -- against      the designer inquiries    

/ against these excitements     -- dull

as the first takes on anything     -- as     comforts

after all     -- after these days-straight rains   

and dusks ahead of schedule     -- these     lifetimes    

paged     / scrolled     to     -- reduced    

to this one’s interests      / this one’s passions

yet to tell     -- to     the conversations

then     -- slipping     through     heaving air --

heard     in     the doubts

and     half-twists       gender





Copyright © 2012 Robert Lietz

Over 750 of Robert Lietz's poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, in Sweden and U.K, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American 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 other print and hypertext (hypermedia) collections of poems for publication, including Character in the Works: Twentieth-Century Lives, West of Luna Pier, Spooking in the Ruins, Keeping Touch, and Eating Asiago & Drinking Beer. In addition I spend a good deal of time taking, post-processing, and printing photographs I have been making for the past several years, exploring the relationship between the image-making and the poems I have made and am exploring.

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

Istanbul Literature Review:
The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online:

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