There isn’t much of a moon tonight. I guess she only feels
vaguely heroic. Secrets don’t come whole either,

but that’s our fault, and no amount of velocity can get them
all blooming in the world. No one really spills their guts anymore.

The dead cities leave behind their ruined columns and bones
and the wild grass doesn’t seem to mind, like it was already

written in the trillion bits of the universe as it was sewn together.
The struggle is that it feels natural to keep a morsel for yourself 

before throwing the rest to the wolves. I plant an iris
in my mind to remember a woman at a party, but never do all

the seeds make it through. If you want a good memory
you have to plant in clusters. I drag this garden behind me

everywhere and nobody mentions it, my secret tool for comparable
grief, to show others I know how it feels to be left alone on a gravel lot

in Arizona rain. As usual, context is everything. Maybe thirty years
from now I’ll realize why I’ve been a chained-up dog barking

all night at the neighbor’s open window, but the archaeologists
are going blind and I’m always so fiercely running out of time.





Birthday Party


The cigarettes make a cumulus of this kitchen.
I want one but know where it leads:

same as where anything craved leads: to getting cornered.
No one’s allowed upstairs. The basset wanders around

with his long nails tapping on the tile like a clock.
Gone are most guests, the chips, our voices, the night

now melting into 6am blue, but fragments linger,
in the bowl or the lipstick smudged on the edge of a glass.

Sometimes it feels like everything just hangs on.
Twisting and shifting to keep the fountain flowing.

How thin is the line between survivor and relic?
Between yes and too late? Days and dreams and dogs

all pass into irretrievable reservoirs. I hear the furnace boom
then shutter, a train going nowhere.







Rob Talbert has worked in jails, bars, cruise ships, and bookstores and earned his MFA from Virginia Tech University somewhere in between. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, American Poetry Review, Boxcar, Inkwell, Keyhole, Ninth Letter, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, Sow’s Ear Review and others. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Award and numerous times for Best New Poets. His first book Jagged Tune is forthcoming from Mad Hat Press.


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One Response to Two Poems by Rob Talbert

  1. Carol Rice says:

    Resonant for me also always “fiercely running out of time” and planting seeds of words that I never remember where there are or who heard them or how well. And as for gravel lots…lots of them scattered places for scattered me.

    but now near home…the memories are of beginnings not abandonings.

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