by Liz Robbins

RedĀ­capped like rage I am, and adorned
with your metal
necklace. The fetid, drying starfish you’ve
thrown me to eat
lies at my feet: my habit, swallowing your
points. Otherwise and so,
I am whittled too long, a kind of homeless.
Too far
one of your mealy strays, my dance for
the public, rehearsed
as a wedding. My little striped jacket, a jail,
and you picked me
for my unveiling, how loud my buttons.
That I’d perform for
a squeeze. All I want is the dead’s perfect sleep.
And to trick you
into collars, curfews. Have you ever written
a song in pencil?
Your certainty drying, you give me wine,
not milk. Such
organ grinding. To show our differences,
I defecate your pages.
Now off to the disapproval woodshed. But
my smile turns
others smiling. I wander up freely to children.
And you are left
blowing hard across your mind’s scorched
valley, a garbage bag
torn. Your depth without heartĀ­reach, without
give, mouth strung
with lights of unknowing. You, mister, who holds
just the one side of a leash.

Liz Robbins’ third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award, judged by Bruce Bond. Her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith. Poems are in recent or forthcoming issues of Beloit Poetry Journal, Cortland Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Kenyon Review. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.