Robin Behn

Gifts | The List
December 14, 2014 Behn Robin




Books, your books, and blocks

of darkest chocolate on my desk,

luscious, viscious.


And the vintage paper doll kit,

“Instant people, for your first house!”—

conjoining wedding cake skirts and stovepipe hats and cats

of the tribe of the continuous tail

and real nesting Russian dolls, her joke about the inner life,

where it gets women…


And,  How to Make a Fire:

pre-soaked logs from the A&P,

little rocker drawn up so close the rockers smoke—


Incendiary queen.

Her subjects.



The List



In the day’s last light      eye-high      there

less than a hand’s      reach into     the holly

the fledgling’s stiff legs      chopsticks      jut up

out of the twig bowl where

how to say it

the red crested head was

ground to spice      the moment      of your vanishing

so loud      ringing the void     so complete      it

pulverized this       fragile antenna      so pungent

it swept on through all the world’s creatures

divining     as your poems did      their course


Then all night long

a windy bush-shaped      sharp red song

scorching the dark      scolding


Who hung the homemade suet

that beckoned my enemies close?

This was my turf my zone my loves

my puffy tattered earthly home—

You helped? Now look what you’ve gone and done!


Oh bird-gone-into-the-dark

who sets my whole life-list aflame

at the mention of your public name

Robin Behn’s fifth book of poems, Quarry Cross, will be out in spring 2018 from Plume Editions/MadHat Press, and her edited volume for young writers, Once Upon a Time in the Twenty-first Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing, will be out from the University of Alabama Press. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Alabama and lives in Birmingham.