Poetry 365

kathleenrooney
Poet Kathleen Rooney

This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting the extraordinary new novel-in-poems from Kathleen Rooney.  In Robinson Alone, the Rose Metal Press founding editor examines and expands upon the work of mysterious 1940’s poet Weldon Kees by reanimating his haunting literary alter ego Robinson.  Epic, atmospheric, and akin to historical fiction, this cinematic collection traces Robinson’s cross country journey from hope to despair in what Booklist called “an intricate… tale of American loneliness and enthralling testament to poetry’s resonance.”  So don’t miss this Chicagoan’s brilliant new book, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

ROBINSON’S HOMETOWN

has nothing to do with Dante. You say
it with an accent: you say it Be-at-rice.
.
A dirt road lined with leafless trees.
Smokestacks. Some background.
.
A slight white kid in white kid shoes
& a dress with ruffles & three pearl
.
buttons. Structures skidded against
the flat flat plains, all rising vertical
.
robinson alonesightlines man-grown or man-made.
The corn bursting. The First Presbyterian
.
Church. The Institution for Feeble-
Minded Youth. The football games
 .
& the Buffalo Bill Street Parade
& Robinson acting in elementary
.
school plays: Sir Lancelot once,
& Pinocchio, obviously. A little man.
.
Robinson reading on the family porch.
Torch songs wafting from the nighttime
.
radio–AM broadcasts lofting
like ghosts from real cities. This
.
& his mother’s artful research–her side
is descended from the Plantagenets
 .
maybe signed the Magna Carta–&
his suffragette Aunt Clara giving him
 .
a French dictionary for high school
graduation chart it out for Robinson:
.
most of the world is not in Nebraska.
Robinson lacks patience for too much
 .
prelude, rude though it is to be so
fidgety, ungrateful. This hateful small.
.
This hateful empty. Civic & dutiful.
Not not beautiful. These moldered.
.
These elderly. Soon-to-be outgrown.
He simply must. Or bust. A loner
.
ill-suited to being alone. In a double-
breasted suit. En route to elsewhere.

Russell J. (Readers’ Services)

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