Three poems by Robin Ray
The slenderest thread binds to innocence
the brutal thorns of fidelity, an itch that
bites back furiously when threatened.
Is a whisper really a moan in disguise?
Long fascinated with the guiltlessness of
yellow, you’ve occupied your home with
yellow walls, dishes, linen, furniture, books,
detergents, clothing, decorations, carpeting,
appliances, all in the name of a canary bath
you claim is restorative, pure Zen in motion.
A peculiar thing, fashion aside, your
fastidious mind, borne to bear the brute
force of concussions like monkeys in a
minefield indulging in gluttonous passions
of spurious waste. You’re the exception to
the fool. Who conspires to buy the moon
behind their lover’s back with their money?
There’s no trick in understanding compassion.
Its simple form won’t bind to extinction.
Feel free to paint it, color it, honor it yellow.
I’m a bad person. I don’t like IPAs. Too bitter.
I’m a bad person. I don’t like strawberries. Too sweet.
I’m a bad person. I don’t like antimony. Too toxic,
and this is rare conviction from a red-tailed squirrel!
I fell asleep, saw the world as a museum. Of course,
no one paid to enter. We were already on display.
Some of us musty, old, in need of a powerful laxative,
some of us curated behind glass coffins, the rest dusted
off frequently because the director said so.
I’m one of the exhibits, cramped, antique steamer trunk,
bowels of the basement, attempting to open the metal
lock from inside, failing. I look for a slit to reveal itself,
see nothing. Not one penny of light. Even pounding the
walls of this wooden sarcophagus brings no attention.
The living is dangerous here, paralyzes my tongue.
I hear slight whistling and a broom, maybe a straw whisk,
brushing the salty ground mere yards away, but the aged
housekeeper isn’t paying attention. I guess her earbuds
are blasting Celine Dion, maybe an old timey radio show
like Gasoline Alley or The Shadow of Fu Manchu.
This darkness eats me alive. If I could turn it to alcohol, I’d
consider my imprisonment warranted. You’re not in jail, I
could hear the director say. You’re just in another dimension.
Preach, sister. Not all red-tailed squirrels are that gullible.
Spider, trapped in the dome of my kitchen light,
did you think you were home, front row center,
in view of the sun? Disappointment is more
than a four-syllable word. It’s where you stand,
my friend. Oh, you didn’t know we were pals?
My brother would’ve squished you like a bad
idea if he was around, but he’s otherwise
engaged, making promises with his fingers
crossed. It’s just you, me, and this alabaster
lantern I live beneath, guiding our destinies
forward and which you take for granted as
harmless. Lesser souls have made graver
mistakes. That which brings me closer to
forgiveness brings me closer to the truth.
It’s time we stopped bickering and I free you,
spider, to free me. That’s my oath for today.
Robin Ray is the author of Wetland and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press, 2013), Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories, the novels Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven and Commoner the Vagabond, and one book of non-fiction, You Can’t Sleep Here: A Clown’s Guide to Surviving Homelessness. His works have appeared, or is appearing, in Red Fez, Jerry Jazz Musician, Underwood Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Spark, Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Picaroon Poetry, The Bangalore Review, The Magnolia Review, Vita Brevis, and elsewhere