Timothy Robbins: “A Shipment of Joists”

A Shipment of Joists

At the In-And-Out Burger four
deaf women curl, straighten,
spread talkative fingers.
They’ve pulled off their rings.
The brunette with plastic
jewels on her chest endangers
her nails.

First visit to the new trailer in
Florida, I get lost coming from
the shower. Futilely cross-
hatching the dark, I marvel
at dew fatter than fattest rain.

Having screwed me once, Tyler
gives my belly a tap
or rather takes a tap from it.
My navel is neat as a grain.
Ancient, pyramid-preserved,
it will sprout somewhere beyond
pain: words in the plane, tight
as my form pressed to the
curving wall.

New additions: divided
lenses, shy amplifiers in the
ear’s alcove (as though we
have to bug ourselves to spy
on loved ones).

Arch supports like paid companions
let us walk but keep us from kneeling.

Would these were as decorative
as the silk lilies and forsythia
that brighten and cheapen
your high-ceilinged home,
your recent honeymoon in Paris
and Rome, your calm amid the
flagrance of Versailles (which
would have been a battle cry
when we were a couple).

A new beat has lived in our pulse
from the moment we could walk,
the moment we could waltz,
the moment we tucked the sea
into our pocket and sauntered to
garden after garden.

In the narrowest bed imaginable
we fabricated. On the streets of
Berkeley we erected our first
disagreement. Scaling it abraded
our palms and left us panting.

Sunday mornings catty corner from
our window, the poor and those
who aspire to be poor gather
to hoist their good news over their
heads. The kids hurl it like
a dodge ball.


Timothy Robbins teaches ESL. He has a B.A. in French and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. He has been a regular contributor to Hanging Loose since 1978. His poems have appeared in Three New Poets, Slant, Main Street Rag, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Off The Coast, and others. His collection Denny’s Arbor Vitae was published in 2017. He lives with his husband of twenty years in Kenosha, Wisconsin, birthplace of Orson Welles. Check out Timothy on YouTube.

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