the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




THREE WORKS
BY WILL ROBY

LEAVING BEAUMONT AGAIN

This, the right side of the county line.
My gun is clean, the morning rag
wrings itself into a ball. I smell some lime,
scratch a single itch. Its bad.
My cigarette, one-hundred length.
My car pulls to one side.
If I could pull with super strength
and change the tide, I might.

================

HYMN NUMBER ONE

You lead me by the hand.
We end up at a pond.
The trees hold hands and smoke.
I look to find their brand.
Ironically enough
it doesn't come to mind.
You take off both your shoes.
You hand me twenty bucks.
I shoot the gun and laugh.
You never bubble up.

================

FISH TRAP

I am typing words for approaching fish.
The crack in the rock beneath my legs
makes a map of someone's journey west
who sat here before me smoking what could be
an entire pack of filtered cigarettes,
cleaning fish and eating raw their insides.
It took five thousand years to crack the rock.

I am sitting where I will be sitting
tomorrow. I am inevitable. I am a cracked mirror,
a wooden frame, I am bone. I am sitting
near the edge of a river, it is night.
I am taking my time fishing, meaning
I haven't even baited the hook,
and I am really just tossing pebbles at approaching fish.

Yesterday I caught a flash
the end of an empty hook sliced bravely,
though the fish had no armor, just
fishy things, a bladder, gills.
I pulled out of his throat
a black and white photograph,
faded at the edge from his gastric fluids but
clearly a picture of a much larger fish,
older and smoking a pipe.
This is what the fish do for their elderly,
carry them forever inside and wait
for some fool's bare hook to slice
and bubble them above the surface,
flashing, shaking the Polaroid wildly.

================

SPEED OF STOP

Chuck Yeager once flew faster than a comma.
He stepped to the ground with his boots like a comma,
the smoke from the plane's tires out like commas,
bent like the fishhook wings of the comma.
A camera, a TVs comma, the comma
at the end of this line slightly taller than the comma,
longer than the pause between Chuck's foot on the comma
and the little mouse whine of the air around the comma.
His answer, his voice slightly lower than this comma,
to the reporter's question "So, how'd it feel riding commas?"
fell like a short black line on the comma,
rang next to the black tools of the comma,
the way a steel wrench hangs notes on the comma,
the way Chuck's nose bends out like a comma.
America, both her legs spread in commas
forgets sometimes where to put her commas,
instead uses this more dignified comma;
replaces Chuck's flight with the spaceman comma,
the weird one, the Indian comma with a dot, a comma
below the brown feet of the common, the semicolon, the comma
with a low black hat on. Here we find half of a period, a comma
reads like half of Chuck Yeager's last comma
who drank hisself to death at the end of his comma,
who flew only once then set foot on the comma.