Poetry by James Robison

The Slender Scent

The rebel angels have done their work.
A water moccasin esses in the condo’s aqua pool, a wobbly black stroke.
Against the storm sky’s ink blue, in hyper real focus
phosphorescent radiance
defines the hedge, pool house, wild rose.
I live on a green plane between seas: the backlit ocean of sky
and the thrashing olive Gulf. You catch the slender scent of pineapple
on a maple table in sun under the western facing window showing St. Ann’s Church,
icewhite and modern, leaning like a harp among raintrees, behind the many trunked and
colossal banyon with shade enough for a city block.
She will protect us from ourselves if we work, if we work.
A bailiff will hammer on that door
with a Notice of Intent to Levy or the thirty-day eviction
from the court. The TV’s screech next door will partner with
the manic laughter of gulls. Your sorrows just kill them.
Mangled in filament, the pelican will
unfold from her valise-like nap and try, panicked, to fly.
She won’t, can’t. East of the marina above the river, god’s own wrath is
told in old thunder.
You asked for this.
Where the rust and moth do not consume, nor thieves steal, there will I be
If I just work, if I work.


James Robison has published many stories in The New Yorker, won a Whiting Grant for his short fiction and a Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his first novel. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, Grand Street. The Mississippi Review devoted an entire issue to seven of his short stories. He co-wrote the 2008 film, New Orleans Mon Amour and has work forthcoming in Story Quarterly and The Blue Fifth Review, and Corium Magazine. He taught for eight years at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program.

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