Light Works Productions
Poetry by Deborah Robinson

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Waking Up

Last night my heart beat fast inside my chest
as if it had just remembered it could
or that it was possible to take off my shoes by the bed
and feel the blood rushing through my toes.
Robin, I've been sleeping again.
The garden's fallen to sticks jutting among the rocks.
Just five minutes ago, it was spring 
and the tide rolled in green like a song.
Please forgive me these lapses.
Is it enough to say that I'm pumping ahead now,
that my hand's on the rail, that this stairway
spans the sky, with windows to touch the sun?
Is it enough to say I'm back,
that someone somewhere is playing a flute,
that the fields have turned to winter grass
and I'm everywhere now, barefoot, wing-tipped 
tasting every heart beat 
bubbling up from the sleeping ground.

Imaginary Walls

Today we broke through the wall.
This time it only took a thimble and a fountain pen.
These days, most anything will do.
I know the walls are not really here.
I know I can step through them anytime,
but my poor mind is holding fast
to this last refuge, this last safe place.
I am being kind.  We've traveled this long road together.
I've learned to love this beast
with its small, silly ways,
and it's accepted I'm here to stay
like a guest that takes over the house.
Finally, because it's just the two of us,
we've made a sweet, uneasy peace,
tapping gently on imaginary walls,
sitting together under a cloud,
imagining it's the sun.


I am here again
walking half a world to tomorrow,
braving the cold 
and the silence between rocks.
This time not fooled by the wind.
I stop and think a little.
Some piece of the past
filters through the trees,
edgy as broken glass.
I sit with it
on the log beside the lake,
warm sun pressing between clouds.
I say bring it on,
deliver up the past,
set it here inside this light
where we are, all of us
smiling into darkness,
letting it dance.

First There Were Fish

This was a morning in 1979
when the tide of one moment parted
and something dropped through.
I noticed a fish floating past,
suspended by air
as if water had forgotten its essence.
I explained it away,
but over the years fish would show up
now and again to raise the question.

Now I've come to see I'm an ocean.
Everywhere there are fish
and I'm out along the horizon
where tides dawn the slow morning
up above and down below
where every fish
carries the memory of its own sky
as I float past.

The Front Porch of One Afternoon

Here is a moment I hold inside my heart
as if it were a lifetime 
and seconds were days to walk around in.
A hummingbird buzzes red petunias
and lands in a strand of vines.
Silence penetrates the leaves.
Windchimes tone the distance.
Plants sway beside a garden of stone angels.
Rosemary drifts between slats of light.
Grasshoppers pulse the grass.
This is where I am
on the front porch of one afternoon.

Underneath the Dream

The truth of who I am
startles fish from the middle of the stream.
I try to cross water
the way I always have
but my feet are too big for the rocks.
Finally I balance air
for the first time
remembering I can.

What If

What if I told you I am here now
what if now were an eternity
and we're just learning to taste the shape of it.
What if it's more than we've imagined 
moving out past trees
past the two of us, wild and alive,
a thing that can't be stopped.

In the Time of Gray Days

In the time of gray days,
I put on my coat and go outside.
As captain of this ship,
I stand on the deck facing clouds head-on.
I am unshaken by the gray.
I am fearless by night.
I take it all inside my heart
and tend it with careful fire
until it's strong and bright,
forged with the heat of this peculiar light
that burns inside me.

The Eagle's Gift

There are moments with power
to change the world.
Like this morning,
driving into an elegant sky,
leaves swirling the windshield
and suddenly an eagle circling overhead,
head and tail feathers glistening white
against the blue air.
I know what it means:
light of the sun, illumination,
gods of strength and power.
Messenger from above signaling coming times
of soaring freedom
and the world seen from new heights.
But this is not the place for words.
I stand on the side of the road,
car door open.
I want to organize a parade.
I want to sing a song.
I want to see how high I can jump.
I do all of it, standing there,
looking up, mouth open,
drinking in the wonder
of this moment.

The Heart Seed Chronicles

These were the journals I kept
in the slow slog of years.
A blizzard of words frothing the air
with despair and loss.
But even the smallest word
carried a seed of my heart
like an apple trapped inside its core,
waiting for spring.
It is a long season come.
It hurts now to read these words.
They feel like birds held tight in small cages.
These cramp-winged ways pierce me.
I speak no judgment but I see
even as I am seen,
and this confusion at who has seen
and who has done
settles like a scene shifting point of view.
I am every character,
each speaking a different language I know.
I tell them it's okay.
We are just one, all of us,
with our sad eyes and our smiles
We are a field of miles
and the footsteps walked between.
We are a day, a moment, a particle of heaven.

Box of Heart-shaped Rocks

Sometimes walking along the path that winds between trees
a door opens before me and cool light rushes in.
Colors dance the air still.
Every particle awakens to love's symbols:
heart-shaped rocks scattered along the path.
With every stone the Earth speaks love from the ground.
These hearts are crude, misshapen, perfectly imperfect
hearts with rounded points,
chipped centers, rough-chiseled edges.
I gather them into a box and send them to you,
giving wings to this song of the Earth
sent to remind us of what we are.

I Remember

I remember the way I used to tremble in snow,
how I dreamed waves of ice,
and the slow thaw of my hands and feet.
I remember leaves flying through autumn air
and crows in the trees.
I remember sand on the beach,
how the water swirled around my feet.
I remember spring budding green.
Fields swept with hope.
I remember falling,
the long slide to nothing.  
Then waking up.


A moment catches fire inside
pulsing starburst explosion into 
fountains cascading radiant 
cool heart light horizons red-hot eternal
sandalwood-scented halo
electric river of love
passioned union embrace
into golden shattering of everything.

Lessons in Dying

This morning I found a woodpecker on the ground;  
stone cold, head tucked under one wing.
His polka-dot frill and swish of red  
plumed the barren landscape.
Just once in your life it will happen this way:  
after a thousand night journeys,
a thousand safe landings,  
darkness falls on a shore too distant.  
The world settles into a silence
as your star falls from the frozen sky.  
You seek the one last shelter left to you;  
burrow deep into the warmth of your own wing  
as hours tick toward a dawn  
that never comes.

Where the Earth Meets the Sky

When the soul files free, 
we are not lost but found.  
I walk these last miles with you  
to the place where the earth meets the sky.  
I stand in the green shade of the oak  
and watch you travel on ahead.  
Years fall away as you pass through
the window inside the sun.
At night in my dreams
I travel to the place where your fields
stretch wide around me.  
This time I'm the one left  
to search out new footsteps alone,  
but time into time,  
my rivers will run back to the place  
where all water flows to one.  
Look for me.  
I will meet you there.

After a Death

The ground has fallen.  
Leaves dance the empty air.  
You are five days gone  
and I am night  
passing endless through hallways  
that still echo the music of your song.

We All Die on These Battlefields

We all die on these battlefields.  
Standing tall or lying down,  
solid or broken,  
watching from a distance
or standing close.  
For some, the news arrives quickly,  
searing down a vapored sky,
like meteors at a shattered rainbow's end.
For the rest of us, it arrives weeks later,  
when turning a corner,  
we find losses stacked row upon row -
gravestones paying tribute 
to generations lost in war.  
And the rest of us, with them.


I imagine it as a sound 
like thunder and lightning
from the shattered bones of the fallen ground.
I imagine it as a place
where dark dreams pierce the skin of night;
where a hot wind sweeps the moon from the sky  
and eats the flame of every light.

Midnight Carnival

If I could paint you a picture of anything, it'd be this:
the full moon rising in my rearview mirror  
as visions headlight dirt roads spiraling past fields of dusty trailers,
past canyons of night winging through a green that stretches for miles  
and leafs like the words of a prayer.
Not a place by anything I've known,  
not named on any map, this campground under stars  
where the sky gives rise to the midnight carnival of my dreams.
Here, planets part to reveal a lunar eclipse.  
Colors deep as forests pass through my mind  
in flavors, frequencies and desires.
Butterflies swarm like points of fire.  
My characters populate the big top:  
the cats and the clowns,
the sirens and the sleepwalkers.
The madwoman wearing necklaces strung from the teeth of her soul -  
shell and bone and magic stones,   
moonflowers and winged things  - 
herons and crows.
There are witches, poets, cowboys and concubines. 
The bright fool in green tights hawking neon colanders 
from a beehive booth.
Behind an orange tent, hot girls prowl back alleys of love and desire.
The illustrated woman strips to unveil the map of her becoming.  
In games of skill and illusion, all my slots spin fruit.
I am the name of every forgotten thing I've known
veering toward the fun house where I climb a ladder to see God  
but find only a mirror with my eyes staring back at me.

Roses for the Revolution

In France we ate cake
and stormed the streets.  
Sometimes I think I remember  
standing at the edge  
of the surging crowd  
watching light fall 
copper and golden  
across the face of a woman  
calling out for freedom  
as she hands each person 
a rose.

Lake Dazzling First Light

Freelancing across
morning's new haze  
soft upon the lake,
I wade through drifts of dawn,  
saluting the shore 
at high watermark.  
Further out,
trees unfold summer's green,  
fresh after the rain.  
The rising sun 
reflected in waves  
startles a heron at the edge.  
Head arched,
he plumes and crests 
then plunges 
into the disappearing blue  
of a watercolor sky.

June 2002, Time of the Full Moon

Moonlight pools the porch  
and spills soft across my summer lawn.
I want to stay here for a long time,  
following shadows in my mind.

A Restless Poem Written in Times of Drought

Two weeks without rain and pastures sizzle.
The air is crystallized to dust.  
I want to row out to the middle of the lake,  
forget there is land ever;  
watch the Milky Way dance across the surface of the water  
while my boat glides through patches of fallen sky.

June Morning

Somewhere up high  
birds warble among leaves,  
continuous, unseen.

Red Sunflowers

It's a summer morning.  
The signposts are strung with fog and dust.  
I start the day reaching up
like earth seeking sun,  
waving to the pale ghost of a half moon  
still whispering among tree tops  
of the night that's fled.  
Birds shed darkness  
to sail blue air  
ornamented with the crimson petals  
of red sunflowers.

Morning after an Emergency
Visit to the All Night Animal Hospital

Today mimosa blooms arch like pink fists,  
grim and urgent as hospital emergency rooms  
where the hollow echo of my footsteps  
still haunt hallways  
flecked with blood and fear.

Fourth of July

Whiney streamers push light up  
through trees.  
They explode and sparkle,  
a fake glitter, forced and bright.  
The crowd at the lake cheers.  
A bugle sounds the charge 
as another streamer rises.  
Closer in, shadows move silent
across the lawn  
where a lone lightning bug  
pulses nature's celebration of night.

July Fifth

Pools of early light linger in dappled lawns  
littered with the remains of fallen rockets.  
Squirrels foraging for fresh nuts  
pause on hind feet to ponder  
tufts of tattered paper on sticks.


Morning sun slants across
the concrete Quan-Yin  
in my deck garden.  
Hungry petunias and marigolds
inch toward her light.

The Truth

The truth isn't dead on, hammer to nail.  
It's a crimson butterfly drifting sideways  
into an unexplainable sky.

An Ozark Witch Remembers Fire

I still remember fire.  
We were witches then.  
Now we don't use words. 
Once you conjure a thing by its name, 
you own the consequences. 
Long ago, we cleansed the earth 
with our ashes. 
We stood far away, 
laughing as the flames leapt high.  
These days we've learned to be liquid;  
to travel in motes of light. 
I wear my secrets around my neck,  
bone by stone. 
My stories are coded. 
I imagine a place  
and I'm there.  
I dream the future  
and wake up tomorrow.  
I see the dawn  
and light breaks through veils of night.  
If you smell smoke on the wind, 
know there's bound to be flames nearby, 
for I know fire when I think it.


In Wisdom Arizona, dawn flies over a dream 
held so long it is nearly dust. 
Here I am small as possible. 
Thoughts quickly become 
the things they're about  
against the backdrop of chanting  
from a revival tent.  
The believers are handling snakes -  
rattlers brought up from the desert  
to prove God exists because  
he protects us from ourselves.  
The town square lingers like a sweltering afternoon.  
Women busy with their brooms  
are reluctant to sweep the remnants away.

Ballerina in Reverse

I learned the worst first -  
how it is when you can't move right 
and nothing flows. 
The ballerinas I grew up with dipped and swirled 
like swallows with earthbound wings. 
But there was no hope of that for years. 
I trudged and plodded. 
The ballerinas I knew grew old. 
Their arches fell, their dreams spun out.  
My best took years to make. 
First I planted roses and dreamed buds opening. 
Then years of practice. 
One toe, then the other. 
Then the arch, the bridge, the circle. 
I reached, touched air, 
and the room around me said grace. 
That's how I became a ballerina in reverse.

Hearts Wide as the Sky

I stand inside rooms of stillness  
where the moments of a countdown stretch long  
into the hour of your leaving.  
The drip of a faucet triggers memories of countries lost  
to ancient armies of regret and despair. 
But this time I'm not armored,  
not taking up the cause,  
not brandishing the steel wand of my will  
to dam rivers against flow and change.  
This time I'm listening for seconds to tell me their names,  
watching them spin around me  
like dust motes sparking inside a window  
where a prism bends light, 
scattering rainbows across the floor. 
In time they move board by board  
blending color into shadow.  
We're getting down to the last now -  
so close I can watch you step out of the shower  
and let myself really see you this time.  
I follow you up the stairs and lie beside you on the bed,  
letting all the easy ways I've come to know you  
claim their own gravity.  
Then at the station, nothing hangs right inside me.  
I am two people who can't agree: 
the one who loves you  
and the one who's letting you go.  
In the end your leaving is as simple  
as the movement of a single breath:  
hold tight then release. 
In the past I'd kick the ground.  
I'd curse the wind and hurl my losses at the sky. 
But now I go into places  
where the green around me speaks.  
It says what's real stays,  
even if changed to something else, it stays, 
moving always out and around me 
like an afternoon weaving shadows through trees,  
their branches bending in a breeze 
that shuffles and rearranges leaves,  
opening channels for worlds to flow through. 
The way we stand together  
a little apart 
- hearts wide as the sky - 
letting sunlight fill the spaces between us.

Questionnaire for a Suicidal Poet

Did you give them rainbows 
when what they really wanted 
was the blood of your secret heart? 
Did you pour words into a cloud 
when no one wanted rain? 
Did they want tangerines 
when you had only grapefruit? 
Did you give them balloons 
to sail over treetops 
when they wanted anchors 
holding them in place? 
Did you walk on your knees 
a thousand miles to bring them, 
the music of your song  
only to watch it fall deaf along the muted streets?  
When crows settled three deep 
in your tree 
did you call to them 
wishing you could fly? 
Did you laugh at the wrong times? 
Did they say you were 
a little off? 
Did they take away 
your green breeze, 
give you black and white? 
Did you put out the light 
from your stars 
so they could pave your part 
of the sky, 
then walk sadly into the place 
where apples sleep 
trailing behind you words 
that scattered like ocean mists 
in sunlight?

Remembering Who I Am

The days were shorter then.  
The nights one long descent into a winter 
when everything good inside me fled.  
Love was measured in degrees of ice 
and wind roared through a silence 
that weighted the sky, 
I went walking across the wasteland one frozen moon night,  
searching for a winter muse to waltz across desolate places,  
reciting sonnets to melt the ice.  
On a slope I slipped, lost footing,  
spun a half-pirouette, landed on the ground and stayed there,  
sinking long into the darkness of the deep freeze, 
hope slipping out around me.  
Then I felt the brush of a feather soft as down.  
Sister past and future,  
I woke to the sound of your light sweeping past.  
Out along the lane a cloud took shape,  
mists formed a vision.  
Woman lit with knowing  
pulls down healing to the waiting world  
walks fearless nights to stand in fields  
where grass whispers its secrets to the moon.  
Midwife to dreams, bringing form to what sleeps  
on the other side, waiting to be born. 
Solid as trees through time, 
tap roots tunneling deep to underground streams.  
A feeling passed over me as alive as the rush of air  
when a field of birds has taken flight.  
I pulled myself up by wire of will, by threads of air, 
and walked solid, feet firm, across the ice,  
the vision still playing behind my eyes.


When your lover leaves,  
wish him acres of happiness.  
Wish him light-speed dreams.  
See him sacred under the ancient sun  
advancing, receding, the tide of inner oceans  
carrying him to a deeper homeland 
where music plays constant along the bright streets  
and his best thoughts sprout wings and fly 
like birds toward distant trees,  
their magical fruit ripening at his touch.  
Believe everything that leaves  
rearranges itself to a different return.  
Stand in the circle of your former footsteps  
chanting the stillness of your deep nights.  
Open the roof to pull in the sky,  
then go inside your secret heart and dance.

A Dangerous Woman Responds to a Letter
From a Man Who Sees Her as Harmless

You speak of my harmlessness, my gentle nature  
but I think tiger, fangs.  
I know how my breath draws hot in my throat,  
how I stalk the edges of places unseen  
like a beast once wounded,  
now poised to defend,  
to fight with a fierceness 
that trembles at the heart. 
I know this way is not best.  
What's best is to stand, feet firm,  
to let moonlight pour through me,  
even arrows if need be.  
I'm not ready to go quiet and harmless  
with the dignity of the dispossessed.  
But I like the way you see me harmless, 
no longer stalking darkness  
but standing fearless inside it.

The Body Ecstatic

Who can say what miracle the night will cast?  
We travel together in these spaces  
at a distance further than time  
while the moon climbs the ladder of the sky  
and speaks to us in cloud tones.  
It is a language of words forgotten
in the hot hour of a magic wind 
when a lover is everywhere inside me,  
a spark loosed beneath my skin   
in moments that touch me like fire,  
like candlelight flamed by breeze  
dancing high along a wall,  
licking shadows across our faces,  
waxing sideways, dripping, puddling to floor.  
I have been to these places before. 
- Close your eyes if you know - 
First by accident.  
It was like parachuting into a field of light 
and waking up in heaven. 
Every cell in the body ecstatic 
knows the way there.  
My veins are road mapped to the embers 
of ancient fires blazing toward 
this homeland forgotten.


I met a man at the Kroger Deli  
who knew me by name before I spoke  
though we had never met.  
In summer, he wears full safari gear - 
desert-colored kakis,  
a solar-powered pith helmet  
and boots that have known the hot distance of dry times.  
He mails me letters from across town. 
He says write and tell me your dreams. 
Tell me what you see when you open your eyes. 
Write and tell me everything. 
He likes starfish and numerology.  
He cuts hearts out of ads in magazines  
and pastes them onto a sheet of paper  
he is saving for the future. 
He says we are more than we know.  
He sends me a reading based on the letters in my name.  
It says the power of desire will propel me  
down unknown hallways,  
that I will probably spend the last years of my life 
on a cruise ship circling the world.  
Often now, I dream of summer hotels in Paris,  
of French countrysides I have never seen.  
Some nights before falling asleep, 
I listen for a long time to the wind roaring over the lake,  
imagining it's the ocean and I am a cloud passing over the moon.

Jackie and the Fire Suicides of Buddhist Monks

The gift arrived boxed with its mysteries still intact,   
that set of Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedias  
my mother after four decades decided I should have.  
I stood trembling a little in awe  
at that great, green sea of vast knowledge,  
bindings snapping the sweet must of childhood mysteries  
- and those photographs  - 
Jackie and JFK walking together,  
smiling at some secret the rest of the world can only guess at. 
All these years of insight and knowing 
have taught me to wonder if they were really thinking  
about Marilyn Monroe and Greek tycoons.  
But back in 62, I took the world at face value.  
This was before that fateful ride in Dallas, 
that Texas afternoon that simmered past days and years, 
shattering some dream of America, 
and in the doing, so much undone. 
My mother so upset by the news 
she forgot to make supper and bring in the wash. 
For two days, sheets flapped in the November breeze 
like flags signaling her personal surrender, 
as if she already knew there'd never be much 
left to believe in the rest of her life. 
The pictures slide from there 
to the next frame, where someone is handing Jackie 
the flag freshly removed from the dead president's coffin,  
and she's accepting as if it's enough  
to walk away with a flag instead of a husband. 
But that was only one thread of the dark tapestry 
spun inside the pages of my encyclopedic yearbooks, 
images flipping to fast forward as I once again ponder  
the fire suicides of Buddhist monks -  
in pictures progressing from the match being struck  
to bodies fully engulfed, sitting cross legged.  
A mystery only half-explained years later 
when I read the words of Madame Nhu:  
"They only burn themselves to reach paradise." 
Already I'm thinking to return these books. 
It's like possessing the shin bone of some long-dead uncle. 
The images they contain appear again and again 
like imaginary walls I must walk through. 
But my mother doesn't want them back. 
She stands now, solidly united against time, 
cloaked in routines that help her remember 
when it's time to make supper or water her flowers. 
I wonder how it came to her - plucking a beetle from a rose bush 
or pouring ingredients into a bowl - to send me these books. 
It's as if she's passed these questions on to me, 
as if it's my turn now to ponder the mysteries of life. 
Or was she just helping me remember how it looked 
when the world was new? 
As if these books could magically transport me 
to that time when I was four years old 
and seeing Jackie and the whole world for the first time.  
But already I know that was a paradise 
even Camelot and the fire suicides of Buddhist monks 
cannot return me to.

For the Bird that just Flew into My Bedroom Window

It's true there are moments that change everything -  
seconds when the slow motion impact, the crack, the crunch  
alters forever. 
If you're lucky you will bend and give,  
or some turn of fate will soften the blow.  
And you will walk or limp away,  
changed, altered, broken.  
But knowing enough to be done with windows 
and things not what they appear to be.

Brazil, or A Theory of the Universe

Today in the check-out line 
I heard a man say Brazil 
is the center of the universe. 
People nodded behind secret smiles, 
but he may be right. 
These days I hold onto nothing. 
With every door I open, 
the past slips out behind me. 
Threads of truth are obscured 
within the tapestry of days. 
When I look with eyes closed, 
the universe appears like feathered dancers 
twirling on a stage of colored light. 
It seems to me the earth from up above 
must surely look like all of Brazil, 
or some other fledgling world 
winging toward the waking light 
in a dance presided over by birds 
with wing spans greater than our own.

Remembering the Butterfly

In 1994, I travel a thousand miles 
to hear Henry Hatch, the butterfly man of Belize,  
explain theories of insect breeding and evolution. 
In that afternoon thick with the hot breath 
of an approaching tropical storm, 
my mind flips back three decades 
to a time when I am seven years old  
putting a black worm into a jar, watching it spin a cocoon.  
But the magic of the butterfly took months to make.  
The jar was lost in a shed.  
The butterfly hatched unseen, 
a stillborn transformation.  
Too late I learned the magic lost in forgetting. 
But having once forgotten, I can't stop remembering.   
Through the window of the butterfly room, 
I watch wind whip palm trees. 
Henry Hatch casually plucks the head 
off a butterfly with a deformed wing. 
He raises rooms full of Blue Morphos butterflies, 
which he ships to undisclosed locations around the world.  
I imagine parcels of butterflies circling the globe, arriving UPS.  
Eight years later, dusk trails a summer afternoon that smells like rain. 
I turn a corner to Cooper Clothiers, 
and pause before a door with 48 Blue Morphos butterflies 
pressed between layers of glass.  
I walk quickly into fading light 
as thunder shakes the first drops of rain from the sky.


The sound was the first hint of something wrong. 
The air suddenly shrill with the screams of crows,  
one unified ascending torrent of outrage.  
I saw crows flying from all directions;  
layers of crows in the trees 
dropping from limb to limb.  
Then something caught my eye on the hill above,  
something ragged and black hanging from a stem.  
When I got close, I saw it was a crow  
that had been shot. 
Falling from its last flight  
it snagged on a sapling  
head erect, facing forward into light.   
Today I heard crows in my yard at dawn. 
It struck me how even after a death, 
crows still make their morning rounds.  
As if by keeping on, 
the lost is somehow found.

The Journey of a Dozen Moons

This is how it began. 
He tore down the sky, 
packed everything that mattered 
into a suitcase and stood by the door.  
Over his shoulder I glimpsed winter trees through glass, 
then watched him walk through the dead brown yard   
into the rest of his life -  
a place I would never visit.  
When he did not return 
I began the journey of a dozen moons, 
at first just this moving inside myself, 
letting wind whip through the spaces. 
Then further out, stalking the moon across the lawn, 
I listened to shadows pulsing drum beats 
drawing me to the deeper outskirts of the village 
where my questions lived waiting for me to ask; 
the place where my lost selves chanted 
the poetry of mystic tongues. 
Striped with the forgotten dreams of my ancestors 
I danced the naked flames 
faster and faster deep spinning silence surrender 
to woods and something wild whispering half human 
half animal drifting like a spark, 
like a firefly 


All summer the ducks swam the lake.  
There were six of them,  
moving closer in, further out and along the shore,  
like cool liquid  
gliding between channels of green.  
Then a freeze iced the lake.  
Grounded to shore, 
the ducks were easy prey for coyotes and dogs.  
Later I found feathers among the rocks.  
The lake fell into a silent lament  
that spanned into spring,  
when rains washed to shore 
proof that nature returns 
that which it takes.
Driftwood arrived. 
First the shapes of duck heads,  
then wings and webbed feet.  
Then driftwood the shapes of entire ducks.  
Some essence had lived on in the lake  
shaped by time and water, 
now delivered to shore,  
as if to say everything lost returns sooner or later  
- reshaped, reformed - 
but returning always, 
as certain as the next breath.

Drawing Lost

In dreams I dove a thousand feet 
beneath the sea of knowing 
to read words carved on a tablet of stone.   
These were my words written in a time future past  
when all the meanings had revealed themselves. 
This was the poem I'd waited all my life to write,    
every line like lightning from the center of my being. 
Moved there in the watery depths   
by these words so far down,  
I knew if I could bring them back 
I would finally be set free,  
as if there are magic words for each of us  
and if we manage to hear them,  
we are summed so perfectly  
there's never need for anything more. 
Rising to surface, I let the words slip away 
but their essence stayed. 
It said knowing is illusion, 
truth is letting go, 
love is found in sparks of light 
that brush the outskirts of dreams 
and forests where I wander, 
listening for the way 
that comes to me as whispers, as notes of music 
when I draw lost long enough to listen.

During a Fast

On the third day, I count my ribs. 
God speaks to me from the bathroom mirror. 
The air bends, the light gets bright. 
People talk in plumes of color.  
Words linger in rooms  
and rearrange themselves to lines of music.

The Illustrated Woman

She wanted to erase the script 
of years, 
the imprint of careless hands 
on her skin. 
She wanted landmarks. 
She wanted gardens 
with green things growing. 
She wanted stars to orbit 
the moon of her seventh house. 
She etched colors 
across the watermark 
of her thighs, 
converted stretch marks 
to lightning bolts; 
handily transformed nipples 
to sunbursts. 
Her belly button 
became the center of the universe. 
On her shoulders 
daylilies bloomed. 
Vines coiled up her legs. 
A small yellow bird 
perched on her chin. 
On her back, an eagle 
with the crest of the moon 
in its eyes 
rose like a phoenix 
from the embers of her former life. 
When she was done, 
she drew a picture 
of her new life on the garden wall 
and stepped into it. 
In the picture 
she stands at the helm 
of a Viking ship. 
She sails the sparkling waters 
of her imagination 
tasting salt sea air. 
In the picture, 
she is captain of islands, palm trees 
blue sky, 
and fast sea birds 
disappearing one by one 
into the sun.

Lovers Never Leave

Lovers never leave but are transformed 
to shapes and textures and tastes. 
Like the moon angling 
from a familiar place in the sky. 
Like a spring lawn 
etched with the wind-swayed shadows of trees. 
Like stones smoothed by water and time, 
washed up on every summer beach in my mind. 
Like mementos of forgotten times 
left in the pockets of old coats - 
lost bracelet charms, stray subway tokens. 
Or the way an orange sometimes 
tastes like a moment. 
Or these entire rooms unfolding inside me 
the way a rose 
filmed in fast-motion sequence 
springs full-blown to sudden light.

Some Mornings

Some mornings I am seven years old again 
waking up as if it's the first time 
banging the screen door behind me 
rushing out to meet the new air 
dancing between lines of fresh-hung wash 
burying my face in the folds of clean, white sheets 
imagining I'm falling into the sun, or heaven.

Letter to My Past Self

In times of transformation,  
the butterfly never truly forgets the worm.  
The worm reborn, 
dreams the flowers of another time.  
Under the sun, nothing is ever lost, 
but only rearranged.  
I will remember you this way.

When We Knew the Sky

This was when we knew the sky  
so well that when words were not enough,  
we'd shrug and look up at the moon.  
We both knew what it meant,  
seeking the shelter of cool summer lawns,  
measuring with our hearts 
what passes between stars,  
certain we knew the secret.


Out along the shore of the sleeping lake 
where darkness swallows things unseen,  
a boat cuts loose  
like a dream drifting  
at the edges of a sleepless night.  
Things unborn float in an ether  
of possibility.   
Sleepwalkers leave their beds on nights like this.  
They traipse in night clothes 
across restless meridians of sky.  
They only fall when they open their eyes 
and forget they are dreaming.


It's an old story, coming to the end of things.  
One morning you are brushing your teeth  
same as always, leaving little clumps of toothpaste in the sink.  
Then drinking coffee from the same chipped mug. 
Jotting grocery lists on the green pad beside the refrigerator.  
Glimpsing your neighbor through the kitchen window,  
same as always, flapping out to the mailbox  
in her flowered housecoat.  
Getting dressed for work,  
you sit on the edge of the bed,  
slip on one sock, then reach for the other.  
But this time something is different. 
This other sock has developed  
a mind of its own.  
It says, "You can't put me on."  
So you sit on the edge of the bed  
holding this defiant sock  
and staring for a long time  
into a space you never noticed was there.

Riding the Last Passenger Train in Arkansas

The price of a ticket is goodbye 
to asphalt horizons of city skies 
that recede at the steps of the station. 
Close your eyes. 
Let yourself fall 
into the rhythm of the rails. 
Open the window. 
Listen to the tango of trees and scrub brush, 
the song of sumac, chigger berry and kudzu 
swooshing through long stretches of green silence hurtling past. 
The conductor announces the name of each dot on the map 
- Friendship, Romance, Rose Bud, Paradise, Heart, Delight - 
as the train chugs through a blur of backwater towns, 
past hills and houses 
where people wave from front porches 
and possibilities spin like roulette wheels, 
carrying you deeper into spaces with breathing room 
where you can sit until you've had your stay 
then ride out further still, past the city limits 
of Happiness where the conductor announces 
you have arrived again and again.


Today I am traveling and nothing matters 
but my hand on the steering wheel 
and this windshield full of sky.  
The clock on the dash has stopped ticking as if to say that time, 
if it is to be understood at all, must be read backwards 
the way we move sometimes at the beginning of a long journey 
that takes us first into the heartland of the past, 
sweeping us through the wheat fields of lost love 
and family dinners and summers on the front porch,  
then moving us swiftly through endless horizons 
of picture postcard highways slicing through 
scenic hills and valleys of dreams and desires  
to the outskirts of frontier towns 
whose lights appear through reams of night 
like new galaxies sparkling with the layers 
of everything that comes after.

The Dogs Penned in My Neighbor's Yard

The dogs penned in my neighbor's yard  
dream of moon-swept fields without fences.  
They dream of green hillsides and songs of the night - 
wild places where bars and fences can't reach. 
The dogs penned in my neighbor's yard  
howl and whimper as cars drive past. 
Yet one dark-moon night 
when I crept to their fence and threw open the gate, 
they wouldn't cross over. 
I know both sides of the wire. 
Each night I dream myself past the fences; 
each morning they reappear, 
reminding me that freedom is just 
the other side of the wire.

What You've Been Looking For

For years you stood frozen and waiting  
while hours ticked through days of silence. 
Pilgrim, your life is waiting. 
Take your resolve from cold storage.  
Find your heart where you buried it years ago,  
in the field under the big stone.  
Find your spirit walking wild in the woods.  
The truth drops like a golden caterpillar from a tree:  
You are what you've been looking for.

Dream Time

Ain't it funny, the dreams that a year can speak?  
Since last we met, I have dreamed and destroyed entire worlds 
I have killed and been killed at least a dozen times.  
I killed Shirley Maclaine's housekeeper.  
They are still collecting evidence against me.  
I worked in a greasy spoon cafe flipping slabs of meat,   
then skipped town with the guy who washed dishes in the back room.  
I climbed a tall mountain to meet the giant talking spider;  
I drove my car into a restaurant, then casually ordered the lunch special.  
I cooked potatoes at a Buddhist meditation camp.  
I wandered aimlessly for years in nondescript parking lots, 
searching for my car. 
I danced with Mick Jagger in a rainbow colored ballroom 
in an outpost along the Astral Plane. 
And last night, passing through the crystal cathedrals of a cosmic bus station, 
our paths crossed with that hot-flicker recognition of lovers 
who have not quite forgotten past lifetimes.  
We spoke to each other from the distance inside our hearts 
before boarding spaceships headed in opposite directions.

To get yourself free

you must be willing to fling yourself, 
willing to risk what comes before 
a fall, 
willing to risk what comes at the end 
of a fall. 
You have to make love to the consequences 
that keep you straining 
at your leash.

Galveston Beach, Morning of the Winter Solstice

With a great rolling sound, 
the ocean rushes away from the horizon; 
the sun burns through layers of morning. 
Seagulls stand watch at the waters edge. 
They scutter forward as each receding wave 
reveals another layer of swirled, brown sand 
pocked with the imprint of bird feet. 
We fill our pockets 
with the sounds of ocean waves 
before heading home.

At the Beginning of a Mad Winter

This winter will see the death of everything. 
Today I saw a crow shot through 
fallen from sky, its wing snagged on a limb 
like a phoenix that could not rise. 
Nightly the melting ice freezes thick sculptures, 
a gentle art for the seasonally affected 
who must daily 
burn down their brains to stay alive. 
Sometimes we arrive in a place no-one understands. 
In the Valley of the Kingdom of adness  
I learn to love the insane,  
their easy language of unbridled misery  
their solemn exchange of empty phrases  - 
Phrases like elephant turds 
and buzzards sprung from flies  
Here, amid the terrible drip of vacant ice,  
the magic hell of what has passed for love  
ticks like a time bomb  
that daily threatens to rearrange the sky.  
There will not be another time like this.  
You can only die like this once and still come back  
I hold onto a leaf, a thorn, a cone of light -  
the last good thing I can find - 
and pray for happiness to take me  
Roughly, with its hot mindless hope.

Spring Returns After the Mad Winter

Dirt daubers buzz the eaves.  
I hit the decks looking for some sun.  
It's early spring or a warm winter day.  
I've stopped keeping track.  
My neighbor mows the brown sticks in his yard.  
It's a good sound, progress and work.  
It keeps the brain from rattling too loose in its cage.  
Who used to say that?  
I can't remember.  
Last year's flowers are dead.  
For weeks I covered them at night with tarps  
to save them from the frost.  
That was my lesson, you see. 
Letting things go even if it means  
watching them die.  
Most days, I don't think of it anymore.  
The way I tried to hold too much,  
then let it all spill onto the ground.  
How bit by bit, the birds, the squirrels,  
carried most of it away.  
Except the part that rotted into the earth  
for next time.


Help me to walk with feet  
that forget the way  
the road sometimes crumbles  
leaving them to navigate  
falling air.

Poem for Claude

I believed in you from the moment 
you first spoke to me 
with parts of your heart 
tucked inside the folds of each word.  
Inside me doors flew open  
and the breezes of a strange new ocean  
filled every room  
with notes ripening to songs   
from mysterious yet familiar places.  
Now here is my heart  
tucked into the handsewn pockets  
of words newly awakened  
to the music of yours.

Frozen Lake

The summer houses are empty. 
I am the lonely keeper of this winter sky,  
daily visiting the ice, solid across the lake. 
My old tracks meet my new 
and merge with small footprints 
leading nowhere across the ice.  
The glassy clink of icicles stirs the silence, 
a frozen xylophone strung from trees. 
Today there are signs of life. 
Across the lake, a man in a hooded coat 
trudges to a dock, punches a hole in the ice 
and drops in a fishing line.  
A plane flies over.  
For a brief moment, the sun 
burns through clouds to reveal 
the whisper of a half-rainbow  
above the snow-capped bluffs.

Toward a better understanding of light

The night is like a field of restless bones  
chattering in a wind that won't sleep.  
I am up at midnight, at one a m  
listening to the darkness explain itself  
again and again.

Driving across Blue Springs Bridge, August Full Moon

Light sweeps the night. 
Sudden moon 
on still water.

Tuesday morning

Sometimes Tuesday morning arrives in a most unexpected day.  
Sunlight dazzling window sills,  
sliding off plants  
green and jigging in the breeze of a ceiling fan.  
I throw open the windows  
and dance to the Best of Van Morrison,  
my bare feet finding  
slats of light on hardwood floors,  
and Van singing, "I'm in heaven, baby, when you smile."

Dreaming the Giant Butterfly

The sun has pierced the sky with a flaming arrow.  
Cicadas' songs drill deep into the parched woods. 
Tall trees bathe my dusty road in shade.  
On my deck, a golden worm 
has eaten the last of the moonflowers 
and spun his cocoon amid the browning stalks.  
I wade barefoot through summer grass,  
waiting for the giant butterfly to appear.


The last string holding me to you  
broke last night in a dream  
where I stood on a beach  
watching a man ride a white horse  
into the ocean.  
When he disappeared  
into the crest of a wave,  
I felt the spray of salt on my face,
and knew I was finally free.

After a Break-Up

I dream of shark's teeth 
and keep one eye on the moon.

Deborah Robinson - Artist Statement

As a poet I explore, ponder and attempt to capture in words that which holds us mysterious. By this I mean the question of life itself - why we are here and what holds meaning for us. I believe these questions are more relevant than ever as we enter this time of the new millennium, when old answers no longer seem to fit, and old ideas we hold about who we are as individuals and as a society must be reexamined if we are to meet the challenges of the future. To me this means focusing on the inner landscape of our deeper selves more than ever before, connecting with the vast ocean of possibility that lies within each of us. As we come into greater self-awareness and recognition of our potential, we are better able to share that with others and assume greater responsibility for the future.

My own past sheds light on how my artistic vision has developed. First, as a lifelong resident of Arkansas, I have explored my own inner landscape in the context of the outer landscape of the hills and valleys and vast green spaces of my home state. The lush, natural world I live in has nurtured my creative life and instilled in me an appreciation of that which is timeless against a backdrop of modern life and its complexities. As a former newspaper reporter, I find myself still delving into questions and bringing back my observations and experiences, only in a different way.

The messages I bring back from my explorations center on transformation and possibility. In my poetry, every experience is transformed into a tool for greater understanding of myself and the world I live in. In this context, I consider myself a poet of possibility, finding threads of magic in the everyday and offering glimpses into my own inner regions, creating awareness of the common threads we all share.

And perhaps the most important message of all is that, in this fast-paced world we live in, it is possible to slow down, to connect with the deeper part of ourselves and bring back the voices of our dreams to help guide us into the new millennium.

All Rights Reserved • ©2005 Light Works Productions • Deborah Robinson

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