ABSENT, NOT GONE
by Timothy Robbins   Absent, Not GoneI don’t expect to miss you but I do
tonight or rather this dark morning
proofing these lines by TV light.Gone — let’s say absent, 
(the absence of an ah renders 
the word less hollow, less raw)less than 12 hours, not long enough
for sour plums to sweeten or
sweet plums to wrinkle. Myvisiting parents, grown used to
retirement hours, are annoyed
that I’m up and running appliances.One would think their presence
would prevent my feeling
so intensely the fleeting lapse ofyour presence. At this early
undefined stage I’d rather
you didn’t stray further than thelength of a dog’s chain. All day
my mind will stray. Mom and Dad
will feel like they’re housesitting.  As Far From Egypt as
One Can GetThis morning while you were
still in your room
I read a Diane Wakoski poem
about a belly dancer.
I could tell you I consumed
the silks and the bells.
I could claim I became the
undulations around the un-
undulating center
which sucked men’s gazes
like a peephole. Will you slip
out, shoot out like a wild dog
from a small cage, wander
with an absorbed air almost
as though you lacked any
awareness of human speech?
The manner of your emergence
will help me judge as
all performers must, the mood
of their audience.
Hopefully I’ll see that
vividness of ripe fruit which
means you’ll enjoy being
reminded of how we laughed
at the live audience member
on the Jerry Springer Show
who said of a Persian woman
“That was all belly and no
dance.” Or you’ll be in that
needy state (a slow traveler,
but it always comes)
when you want to touch my
new middle-aged belly,
a child barely touching
a dog, his attraction to the
mutt having just collared
his fear of it.    An Evening InWhich shall be true now that the Tyrone Power
DVDs have been delivered —
that he liked men and women equally or that he
preferred one at least a little to the other?
Was he the rare merchandise these two-sided
DVDs are? You can see what’s
on my mind: when I noticed
their thin cases, I thought of my husband’s
thinness. What shall be true — that he is
anorexic or that he’s careful here on the verge
of forty? We begin with The Witness for the
Prosecution and end with Café
Metropole. When the café artist finishes
Power’s head in Young’s lap,
he sketches us in the same pose. After he goes,
will we lie together like cold coffee
in a cup too late in the day to be drunk? Or,
when the room’s as black as Coat and Tails,
will we lift each other from the couch and waltz
till the orchestra fails? Minutes
later, stacked on each other as though
there were no place else to lie, which shall be
true — are we anointing pleasure or freeing
the Windsor knot that rides Power’s throat?    Another Accompaniment for David’s Morning JoeThe chill through the door is deliberate.
The chill on August fourth (while parts of the country
burn like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego)
reminds me of my scissor collection,
some scissors quietly stolen, especially the loose,
silver-colored, barely sharp pairs,
too small for modern Americans, like beds in
historical mansions. Just three weeks ago, on a
hot day in Madison Indiana,
in a mansion whose anachronistic air conditioner
was on the fritz, I learned our forefathers and mothers
where not as small as their beds imply. Sitting
up in their sleep helped them breathe before there were
medicines to encourage their lungs. I am a
historical reenactment —
sitting up, dozing on the sofa, facing balcony doors,
welcoming the chill as the docent welcomed us —
officially friendly as he pulled out the key.
The chill intensifies my disillusionment, gives it the
bracing quality of unsweetened iced tea. The chill
is as wrong as a girl too young for her seductive outfit.
It’s a better reliever of worry than copulation.
It’s the soft organ accentuating funerals and radio soaps.
Its convincing imposture of a kind therapist 
doesn’t fool me. I dreamed Madison was the afterlife,
we were buyers, the docent was a real estate agent.
Did the chill believe this?    Ars VivendiIf you had the right detector you would see him glowing,
sitting barelegged on a 5th grade floor with TeachYourself Latin held open by precocious toes. His
dad’s busy rescuing dogs and pianos. His mom’sputting lipstick and scarfs on Gibson guitars. The
indicative and the accusative get tangled up with hisyoung hard-ons. His first wet dream is tied up
with a toga like a hobo’s bundle. He pays no attentionto his parents paying attention to him — his dad daring
other dads at basketball games to guess what the prodigyis lost in — his mom passing declensions in awkward
handwriting around the center table at the dinerwhere the working mothers lunch. Years later they’re
on a road so long and straight it feels a crime that itdoesn’t lead to paradise, but presses on through the
heart of sugarcane fields sending up smoke signalsof distress or exultation. Heading for a great uncle’s
heart murmur and bypass. Next week at the longend of the state, their oldest and his new wife with her
hunger for the carpenter’s trade his brother and he neverwanted. Then a week with Dad’s youngest
brother, whose bones are already older than theirmother’s. In between: strawberries, darts, shuffling,
lots of cleaning. He hears it all on the phone and writes it down(not in Latin, which he never learned) — his  dispassionate
record of an art they mastered.           About the Author:Tim RobbinsTimothy Robbins teaches ESL and does freelance translation in Wisconsin. He has a BA in French and an MA in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University. He has been a regular contributor to “Hanging Loose” since 1978. His poems have also appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Three New Poets, The James White Review, Slant, Main Street Rag, Two Thirds North, The Pinyon Review, Wisconsin Review, and others. Denny’s Arbor Vitae is his first published book of poetry. (Adelaide Books, 2017)
    

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