11:1: “ZuZu’s Petals”, by W. C. Roberts...

in the VA hospital like a nurse in fatigues
he looks up at her and turns the page
of his/her manual (what he knows
by heart) and he hears voices
in the ambient noise:
“every night I throw away
a grenade that was meant for me
and every night it winds up
in her lap” “mother,
I didn’t mean all those things I said
before evacuation”  how chicks scatter
like pigeons from a rooftop when they ask
what’s on your mind, soldier
and you tell them
–worse, if the sound of the bells

confounds you, and you take hold

of your scalp and (hinges creaking) lift the lid

so they can see you’ve nothing left 

to hide? 
another forehead blossoms
before we heard the shot (unfolding
thoughts of Ft. Benning to line our pockets
with) now that he’d been schooled
in finer things, and we
we like to think so


WC Roberts bought a second-hand television set in 2010, after selling his first 100 poems.  He can’t get Mystery Theater or Happy Days reruns on his rabbit ears, not way out where he is, so he Rarebit Dreams of riding in the sidecar with motorcycle-tough Miss Marple as she jumps the shark.  Or tries to.  Night after night…  He says:

 Eggnog!  Nutmeg is a mild hallucinogenic.  It’s a Wonderful Life! was on TV and I was Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart, flying his last mission in a B-52 over North Vietnam.  The year was 1966.  The sound of carpet bombing inspired the rhythm, while my impressions of Stewart and his careers (in Hollywood, and in the military) provided some of the substance and the paradoxes of this poem — which I’d like to dedicate to the doctors and nurses of General Hospital, who treated me with more patience than I could afford.
 

10:2: “Redcap Repast”, by WC Roberts...

  Alice found a mirror on the table
  dusted with a white powder and his prints,
  things to be taken in as evidence
  of foul play, with the pearls and the sable

snatched away to the South Side to be fenced
by Dust Bunnies for quarts of Black Label
and a kitschy poster of Clark Gable
pulled off the pawnshop wall. They bet against

the Red Queen/white rabbit in a fable
gone to ground, crowned in calico and chintz
dyed red with child’s blood and subtle hints
of rosemary, a roast on the table

under a cream sauce, with garlic minced
and a Mad Hatter-shaped protuberance.


WC Roberts lives in a mobile home up on Bixby Hill, on land that was once the county dump. The only window looks out on a ragged scarecrow standing in a field of straw and dressed in his own discarded clothes. WC dreams of the desert, of finally getting his first television set, and of ravens. Above all, he writes.

9:4: “No Child of Daedalus”, by WC Roberts...

  “shoot it down in a tangle of broken planks
  and brackets, twisted with string and sailcloth

knock it from the air
this machination of witches and devilry

no child of Daedalus rigged this up
and no Daedalus, either; yet through the air
it carries a man…” 

                                 and from the balcony
Leonardo watches arms spread childlike imagining
he was the flying machine

a stallion rearing bronze about to leap from the pedestal
with a smile like that of his Lisa, so pleased he was

the terrified massing below conspicuously absent
from his sketches, he turns away

returning to the workshop to capture the flight
in pigment and egg white on a panel

porcupine-bristling with pikes and bolts for brushes
their rendering of it all more forceful than his


WC Roberts lives in a mobile home up on Bixby Hill, on land that was once the county dump. The only window looks out on a ragged scarecrow standing in a field of straw and dressed in his own discarded clothes. WC dreams of the desert, of finally getting his first television set, and of ravens. Above all, he writes.