Charles Farrell   © 2010 All Rights Reserved

The New Art Professor, Dead by His Own Hand

Now we’ve heard, we want clues: shotgun propped by a kitchen chair, bedsheet looped about an attic beam. Your students zoo about, caged. We reach out to pet them, smell the apple shampoo of their wet heads. Gray sparrows edge along limbs, sounding chip calls.

The memo announcing your death, a white tablecloth. Words lined up carefully, ready spoons. We weren’t watching. Into our laps, hot soup.

Still, the air. Mound of bed, the finished corners of sheets. Fireplace, used. Ragged lawn, clipped clean. Somewhere near and far, a bowl of ash. Somewhere near and far, a cemetery.

At his desk, he’s hunched above the paper ream. White sheets of long and short shadows. Taps the charcoal pencil. Too late to erase
shapes he committed to. Nowhere
for the pictures to go but past
borders. At a certain point,
how else to inhabit them fully.


The Letter (1940),

where every scene contains the moon
face of Bette Davis, damning bits of evidence:
a lace shawl, a letter, lidded eyes in the mirror.
The death-wish ivory dagger. Always the plotting
as to how one’s Singapore life could turn better.
And just as dependably, the drastic misjudging.
The wrong man. She thinks she wants the one
who collects guns, the playboy in the glass-filled
haunted mansion. Schemes in her dark bungalow,
avoids her good, square husband like the sun.
Wants cigarette holders and gin, a row of linen
jackets. And vies for the playboy so hard,
shoots him dead. Listen: a woman with pickaxe
hands climbing Goldhill may need the wind cold
in her hair. But more, the fool miming stars
who loves her, who floats in a windless pond.


Liz Robbins
Copyright © 2010  

Liz Robbins’ poems appear in the current issues of Gulf Stream and Harpur Palate and are forthcoming in Cave Wall and New Ohio Review. Her first book is Hope, As the World Is a Scorpion Fish (Backwaters Press), and she is an assistant professor of English at Flagler College.

Table of Contents            Next Poem            Guidelines