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  • Hendrix in Wassergass, and: November 2, the Monitor, and: Three Inches
  • Len Roberts (bio)

Hendrix in Wassergass

It was the third baby rabbit in three days, our cat’s Himalayan face and neck all puffed out as he trundled off to some dark place I didn’t want to think about, not with my son’s guitar screeching from the barn where he’d set up two amps and blasted away, all of him gone into the strings with Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil— whatever would bring him some relief from what the doctor called extreme loneliness— whamming something from Hendrix, although I can’t bring back the song, just an owl breaking in at the end of each riff, hooting from the woods behind our house where my son and I had cleared over an acre of wild rose thickets just a few years before, me chainsawing from the top while he crawled under thorns with the long clippers, made those cutting tunnels he’d hide in, later, during the heavy snowstorms. [End Page 124]

November 2, the Monitor

Thirty-four years since you puffed that Lucky Strike, sent those signals of smoke up that no one ever sent back, even that morning when the rest of Cohoes was at high mass and you woke to clutch your heart the black wings also clutched at, lifting you into another world I don’t even want to think about, not with this tube in my nose, this tube in my throat, just yesterday watching my own heart’s jagged green lines zigzag up and down the monitor’s black while the valves did their job, the doctor joked, not one sealed, not one blocked from all the eggs you scrambled those nights she high-heeled off the porch, left you standing at the stove reeling salt onto mounds of yellow flecked with white that glittered as you turned and whistled, slid it all onto my waiting plate. [End Page 125]

Three Inches

She is bent three inches just this year, 5′3″ to 5′, her back growing more and more into a question mark

as I sit thinking of her last request to be buried in that crinoline dress, those artificial pearls, the wedding ring put on again and lost in knuckle fat, the stiletto high-heels,

all of it written down long before she started to curl into herself like this, making her slow way from parlor to kitchen to count out the pills, 18 each day,

and the tablet where she marks them off, wetting the tip of the pencil with her still pouty lips, asking if I’d like a glass of juice, some buttered bread

as she tries to straighten her shoulders and stretch her back, stop her head from bending on that crooked neck. [End Page 126]

Len Roberts

Len Roberts’s ninth book of poetry, The Disappearing Trick, is available from the University of Illinois Press. His book of translations of Hungarian poet Sándor Csoóri, Before and After the Fall (BOA Editions), is also available.



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pp. 124-126
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