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Sample Poems by Lee Robison


The hands that shaped a voice of clay,
did they muddle eons, or in a day
form and teach this singing bone
that praises Him in monotone?


The woman who lugged me in our dark fluid
birthed me these mountains, a bloodright bloodier
than any God's entry into Caanan-
that claimed water and rock with a naming them
that compassed Madison Valley hills with wire,
dredged Alder Gulch gold
engineered Meadow Creek to alfalfa
these cheat grass bench-lands and cactus draws.

Does this make it mine?
Does measuring a land bind soul to soil?
Does graving irrigation ditches to green fields etch
our possession out of bedrock and aquifer?
Do even the blood clotted graves deeper
than planting these hundred years mean mine?
Do mere placings, takings-namings-seal a claim?

There was another-
before claims were ledgered ticks in Virginia City or Helena,
before wire and thirst squared these benches and hills
before any blood I may claim in soil or vein-
there was another who, blood and bone, asserted 'mine',
whose mother birthed her these contours and horizons,
who grubbed for taste of bitter root
whose thirst tongued the tongue of this river,
who named these mountains from her bones,
possessed them with chips of stone and char of her heart.

Whose have is more? Mine than hers?
Mine and its currency of possession
or hers-lost change of history?

On a wind white ridge
a cat sprays rock
and in the yellow groves
bulls trumpet harems.

On Leaving New Mexico for Civilization

Forgive me, eyes, I've scorned the dusky mesas,
salmon and orange, miles from anywhere but sky.

Forgive me, ears, I've shunned that sky
closing in, chuckling with thunder
and tittering half the night like a crazed old shaman
who scatters vermilion and pollen among pottery
and whiskey bottle shards in the rocks in the hills.

Forgive me, feet, I've smirked when he danced at dawn,
sodden-hobbled in grass wetted flat,
mixing green yellow and flame.
For doesn't his stagger open the sky!

Forgive me, blood,
for in this auditorium dark,

how may my daughter's sober toes,
trained on polished floors-leap

though they might with my pulse-
make a morning sun rise?