Guest Poet Jeff Roberts

The Rookery
In late October, warm air leaves the basement laundry 
settling in the third floor bedroom. The antiqued-blue 
chest, at the foot of the bed, juts from the topography 
like a granite invitation. Several species of shorts
winter here during the kitchen's cold months. 
The nesting ground teems with cut-off denims, 
silk boxers, and one-hundred-percent-cotton chinos. 
Plaid baggies puff their pleats to scare interlopers.
Mating pairs entice each other with floppy pockets. 
Bits of lint-like plumage, caught on the rough edges 
of old furniture, flicker in the humidifier's current. 
Nature provides this small chest and instills the instinct
to return year after year. The shorts breed; they rear; 
they remain for months, fighting off wash-day trespassers, 
day-old underwear, wallets, wedgies, and wanderlust. 
In mid May, when the Bakhtiari herd their goats
back into the highlands; when the Pennacooks hike north 
to Concord; when martins, swallows, terns, and warblers 
wing their way up coasts, my shorts and I explore 
the second floor, testing the breezes, warming to travel.

February, 1998

Winters The clicking of the new thermostats reminds you of crickets, me, of monkeys in a Pagsanjan River morning. They chirp at the dawn or (with a slight delay) at a wash of incandescence leaping from the bathroom. The comfort of carpet is evolutionary. A step up from the icy linoleum of the apartment in Cambridge. It seems like eons since your brick cave in Korea and my temperamental twin wood stoves in Maine. The ice age has passed. We have discovered civilization. We linger under the covers by choice, not from the fascism of frigid air. We can be lazy, like the corners of the quilt tucked under our chins. We can laugh at the sound of monkeys in the morning.

February, 1998

Dry Clean Only The suit is not wrinkled, it's rumpled. Its furrows and five o'clock shadows need no modern farmer nor the steel and steam of a woman's touch. No matter how carefully hung, attitude puckers the cuffs. Same day service is not as convenient as it sounds. Attention to appearance can be a noble path. When properly sized and tailored, sleeves drape like good towels from rods of natural shoulders. Linen compliments a fat man. Tropical nights dab the sweat from your forehead when cool, dry women offer to help with your laundry.

February, 1998

Jeff Roberts's Questions:

Are the opening lines sufficiently anchored in the real world to allow the bodies of the poems to wander without losing the reader? Is the wandering chronologically fluid? Do any of the images take you off the path? Do the conclusions finish the poems or leave the reader hanging?

Correspond with Jeff Roberts at
with your ideas about these poems.

The Albany Poetry Workshop