Three New Poems By Robin Beth Schaer

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Flight Distance

Sugar was grit all through my feral year.
The sleepless alarm of instinct strung
every nerve on a trigger of quills.

In this wildness, you took me clothed,
only a rattle of buckle for warning.
Not ardor, but hunger compelled

that first time. And now, after
losing count, we still uncover ourselves
last. Clothing pushed up or pulled

down, a neckline stretched across hips,
a skirt raised over head, until breathless
and bare, we smolder against skin.

Maybe this rush evades a snare, or is seized
with skittish need, but whatever spins
this frenzy does not conceal our fragile bones.

Dear rogue, keep me indoors awhile more.
When you ask me to say your name, I will.


Spun from the squall line, I am the wrecking ball
of wind you craved, unleashed on this supine plain

where the planet’s curve is all that hems horizon,
and you, my only azimuth. Wait for me underground,

a supplicant in the shoveled safety of a root cellar.
You should not see how quick a house is dismantled,

how it will bloom, a peony unfurling wallpaper and tile,
scattering fiberglass and plaster in a bramble of wires:

a history only revealed in ruin. You cannot rebuild
here. Start over and kneel before a new god.


A tree will grow around squirrel bones, enclose
whatever is lost or forgot: a scythe swung in the trunk,

a hidden tin of panned gold. Up to you, we remain
a knotted stand, every pinecone sealed in resin,

until we petrify in place, but a forest will suffocate
itself, trap the sun and water out. It is no accident

this phosphorus summoned by droughted chaparral,
a pyre to crown the canopy, to burn us both down.

Husband, take your share of buckshot and soot;
forgive me not the fire, but the hesitation to ignite.

Robin Beth Schaer’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square, Prairie Schooner, and Tin House. She has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Saltonstall Foundation. She teaches at Marymount Manhattan College and works as a deckhand aboard the Tall Ship Bounty.

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