Five Poems by Rob Schlegel

Five poems by Rob Schlegel in COMPANY





“Part of it was crawling, part of it was about to crawl,

The rest was torpid in its lair.” I’m ready to be something else

And fewer

After Napoleon’s real hair. The flamingo’s

Vacant eye appears

More vacant inside the Museum of Natural History. Hex

On the ship

Is never enough. All these gulls in their duress over

The girl washed against rocks

Rich with

Berries hawthorns drop. You can hear the hiss of dazed

Insects pressed between pages of

“Spiritual Experience.” There’s the sailor, lately


Holding my ticket away from love’s cut I can’t see

Because apologies

Love is a book of Yeats Alan sent to Brandon Brandon

Sent to me. Eyes damned in the near

Work, red and tender, there’s the sailor. We meet as though

We’ve never met

The poem’s void under the shadow of swords.



We crossed a threshold and felt at home. The title,

We said, the deed. We need evidence

We don’t belong before

We leave. You could see our economic gait across


Doctrines labeled destiny. We prepared for the first

Arrival. Boatloads of relatives by marriage

By blood. We replaced paintings

With better paintings. What that meant was never


Contested. We stepped over children

Whose fates we wrote on walls. Some received

Hammers, nails, three nights

Of unmolested sleep. Others: nightmares, chronic


Pain in their extremities, seventeenth century

Disease. Mornings we’d harvest

Onions, fruit, varieties of leeks.

Critics called foul. You know, the over


Under. Others hazarded tokens: Hello, how are you?

Anyway. Evenings we’d walk aimless

Through snow. It was like opening your

Eyes into a room full of anaphora, but bigger.



We had help for the fencing, the planting,

The building, help for the Queen.

We had help for the slaves, the peasants,

The growing, help for the greens.


Help for the grapes, the meats,

The music, help for the hawks.

We had help for the snakes, the seduction,

The sex, help for the talks.


Help for the child, the breathing,

The reading, help for the illness.

We had help for the party, the loons,

The painting, help for the stillness.


We had help for escape, the planning,

The dreaming, help for the trash.

Help for the sleep, the brain, the laughing,

Help for the imminent crash.


I don’t, I don’t think

you know this, she said. I don’t think


you know this about me

I’ve never been swimming in the recreational

format, I mean, for fun

I’ve never been swimming for fun



The video features Saab dad reading Money on a bench his

Daughter leaves to explore

Swings where a man pumps his legs whispering


I hallucinate 19th century graves downgraded to empty

Bottles of Aleve

Authorities sign the cross delaying the release of video featuring

              Kids searching

For keys to the shore Christmas fills with choir

               “Your Gucci's a fake”

Is not deescalation. When I hallucinate meaning the video

Features my social, sexual

And parental mistakes. The prosodic equivalent of

              No photos, please

Is friends writing poems through which I pass singing Ring

Around the Rosie. Therein lies the fissure

Winds fever when snow’s a ghost orphaning calm in the

              Video featuring

Blue light making space in my eye where panic grows a tree

              Is light

Matter? Is fire? I hallucinate a park for skeptics like me filming

Trees shaping the air with

Heritage when the wind claims to dry all liquids


I can hear the blood in my head when I hallucinate ashes

The video features a life.



             Be lost, or just

Be you, Kisha says the morning spiders trigger the smoke


Panic retails for change I throw away when pledge of allegiance

             Is frozen

Verse in conflict with where I live in relation to labor blistering

Hands in fields spring rains erode. I know you know

             What I mean

When I say I want a Mary face. Life’s less reaffirming

Wil’s teacher teaches division via word


Jake cuts his pie into six pieces. That some students

Don’t know what pie is

Is American as “Maybe I'll spend my gap year in D.C. massaging


Policy.” When I'm mercury I read Frankenstein

Outreach is discount NetJets

That I'm moon to me, but cube to suits stuck in adolescence

             Is no

Secret. Mary Shelley learned to write her name by tracing it

From her mother’s grave

What I love about mom is, Your trauma

             Is my trauma

Can poetics be divorced from politics is one question creditors

             Transfer from

Venom to logic made suspect. I’m an American Mystic means

I’m the opposite in markets promoting

              “What grade

Fur is that?” When I’m poetry I reach

Into prose. When I'm daydream I tell Picasso, Nice portrait

             Of Gertrude

Yes, he says, everybody says she does not look like it

When I’m with you when you’re with what you think is me

             The husband

Of a genius you have sat with. When I’m alcohol I sound

             My god. Care

With words is one form of control. When I’m field foxes sleep

I impress my sisters when I’m silk.


Rob Schlegel's books include The Lesser Fields (Center for Literary Publishing) and January Machine (Four Way Books), which won the 2014 Grub Street National Book Prize. His recent poems can be found in Bennington Review, Lana Turner, and Poetry Northwest. With Daniel Poppick and Rawaan Alkhatib, he co-edits The Catenary Press. He has lived in several states.