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Three poems by Kim Roberts

See our feature interview with Kim Roberts here.

Hearing Loss

I. Hammer, anvil, and stirrup furnish the yellow vestibule, echo every faint breeze, rustle of paper, small words long forgotten, spoken close and low. Long after the electric pulses slow, the reverberation: this is song. The vibration goes on, white bones that shiver and buzz; the room is not empty. Here is the drum, the cilia, the perfect alignments. Here the desire. Here the memory of desire. II. Hear the memory of desire: rustle of paper, small words that shiver and buzz, the room long forgotten. Spoken close and low, the vibration goes on. White bones— hammer, anvil, and stirrup— furnish. The yellow vestibule is not empty. Here is the drum, the cilia, the perfect alignments. Slow the reverberation: long after the electric pulses echoed every faint breeze, here was desire. This was song.

*This poem first appeared in Unsplendid 2.3.


Hundreds of tiny fry crowd the single tank, churning the water milky. The fry grow to parr with wobbly, thick black stripes

as if drawn in a child’s hand. The parr grow to smolts, released into ponds. As they smoltify, they turn silver, grow scales.

Their ponds go saline and they grow, they fatten. They bulk up, fish up, they chinook, they chum, they coho, they sockeye.

They don’t run, or redd, or spawn, or kelt. No ocean, no river, no homing. No anadromy. They don’t properly pink

so far from habitat. So they’re fed a food made from themselves; they are cannibalized for color: soylent salmon.

And they are fed twice as many pounds as they grow— a crazy economy. Still they are created in the thousands, packed

into writhing tanks like shooting fish in a barrel. Three years from artificial insemination to the flap of a caudal fin, to the bagel on my plate.

*This poem first appeared in The Quarry, Split This Rock’s Poetry Database, 2017.

The Thing in the Thing

Is the chimney a chute of air where grey smoke clots and rises?  Or is the chimney the bricks,

the mason’s careful art?  Is the car a box of metal,

a web of gauges and fuses, or the feeling of speed

gathering under your right foot? The tree waves its branches and becomes, thanks to wind, more tree.  The clouds

lend more meaning to the sky.  Water maintains its fluidity even while held in the confines of a glass:

a glass of water is a shape, not a nature.  The true nature

of a thing, its essence, is something pure and focused

like a stone holding its hardness.  A telephone holds its ring as pure potentiality. Then it does ring, and it’s Gwen,

and she’s telling me a story about her sister in Knoxville,

or explaining the common root of a word in Italian

and a word in Hebrew. Not knowing the name of a thing changes nothing, but when I can,

I like to know.  The sky holds nothing back.  Every time the barometer drops, it makes some big confession.

*This poem first appeared in Gargoyle 60.

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