Anthony Robinson

To a Man I Wish Existed

Do you remember the red shift? the Doppler effect? the man in blue
who found out about the sun? Do you know this man? If you look at him
directly, without protection, you'll surely die.
—overheard in a bus station

O servant of steely radiators!
apprentice of steam! brackish boy
with a yen for books about Egypt!—
come out from the rain, hand out sun
glasses to those who come to gaze
at you who make pornography
with each foot planted, each hand
on each cheek, stunning those too
ashamed to feel. How does it feel
to have engendered so many warning
stickers, so much electricity,
so many blue vases, and maids
wearing cobalt kerchiefs dotted
with birds? How did you get here,
all the way from, was it, Ohio?
I've heard wondrous things
about your cigars, your rubber life
rafts and your egg sandwiches—
the key, Geoffrey told me,
is in the drawer near the stove
in the kitchen of the once-thought
extinct Blue Ribbon men. Wolves,
pigs, skinny farmers, puppet-makers
all take turns at the stove:
Omelettes a la Paul Klee,
Mousse en Estilo de Bullwinkle,
Martha Stewart Cheese Grits,
Margaret Thatcher Burnt Toast,
and your influence, wunderkind
of physick, of salads, of poesy and auto
mechanics, ranges further,
to somewhere beyond the Pyrenees,
and a mountain range in Bulgaria,
where the surface is swimming
with tiny spark-spitting fish.
A million years ago, said the preacher,
when men and women understood
each other better, once a year
one man from tribe A) and one
woman from tribe B) would float
on corrugated cardboard
pirate boats across the great
Sea of the Yellow Spaniel, and meet
near a seal-friendly rock for an evening
of crossword puzzles, impossible
Phoenician cuisine and a sort of lovemaking
unknown in the post-industrial
world, because the man who invented
it could not be reached for comment.
O, come back and lecture
on salt and the pungency of onions,
the sharp edges of tin snips,
the pros and cons of getting to know
one another before leaping
into bed in a fit of wanting body parts,
plastic bags filled with dried squid, and how
an object rolling continues rolling
until something, a huge lizard, say,
crawls onto the path and in doing so,
causes the lights to flicker in Seattle,
soothes the anarchists and seizes
the weatherman with the compulsion
to tell the truth. Today, rain. Tomorrow
rain with a chance of clouds.
Monday partly rainy with sex
in the afternoon if you stop mocking
the poor overworked sun who only wants to help.

Anthony Robinson teaches writing at the University of Oregon, and is a poetry editor with the Northwest Review, and the new journal The Canary. Recent work appears in: Xconnect: Writers of the Information Age, Chase Park, Spinning Jenny, parlorgames, Salt River Review, Snow Monkey, Fourteen Hills and other journals.

Anthony Robinson can be contacted at [email protected]