Genesis - Liz Robbins

so to the task, pseudo-adam, rattler-in-an-adam
mask, adam-fallen-short, of calling things by
their longing names, the schlitz cans holding
love-that-is-not-love potion, party where we met
a hot-body constellation, yours apple-scented,
under-shirted–already the twisted-about-the-neck
cord growing, the nearly-bored code of silence,
our across-the-room eyes a kind of radiation–
this the prologue to our fortune-cookie opera,
the mystifying fog of today conceals the dark-
ness of your future, yes, there you are at two
a.m. amtraking the porch, one last stop for
un-ticketed girls, and i outside-but-soon-to-
be-in your fled-eden diorama, dazzled, yes,
imagined doves flitting stone-castle eaves,
he restoreth my soul, the snow-dress-with-
train lie already weaving like eggs in a sac–
only after years could i track the taste to skim,
your milky skin, control at whim the proud
battery revving mind and body, we after all
not the distance, but a black-swan flurry of
wings, a dazing tunnel cloud soon to finish
off the already-trashed prairie



Full disclosure: my husband Don is a good sport about me returning in poems to the subject of my college paramour (a case study in dysfunctional gaming). The scene described played out many times in various ways: end of the night, everyone drunk, me making moon eyes at the love object as he made one last trip around the room to ensure I was the best he could do. You’re free to draw self-esteem conclusions as I admit the undershirt he constantly wore was indeed the proverbial wife-beater. So this poem was an exercise in wordplay and sound, as the early ’90′s party scene was always accompanied by a backbeat (often the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique) and conversation was playful innuendo (and barbed sarcasm). Therefore, kennings abound. Kennings are great peppery spice: how smart was the Old Norse literary god, for instance, who turned a dull word like “sword” into the delicious Freudianism “wound hoe”?

Given the subject, I also had to work in Biblical allusions to the Adam and Eve story (“adam-fallen-short” is a pun on The Fall, “apple-scented,” etc.). And there is more pun fun: for instance, I’m hoping pairing “mystifying” close to “fog” implies “mist.” And “nearly-bored code of silence”–as it’s describing “across-the-room eyes”–is meant to suggest several kinds of “boring.” And I love how “radiation” naturally becomes a negative spin on “radiating.” And, yes, as sex is everywhere, I added some familiar cornball Freudian imagery/puns of a train going into a tunnel (“amtraking,” “snow-dress-with-train,” “track the taste”), which is also supposed to suggest the movement of a snake. “Un-ticketed girls” probably also alludes to a period at the College of Charleston where the Charleston Vice Squad (kid you not) would show up at rowdy college parties and issue tickets to those drinking underage. Ah, the good ol’ daze.




Liz Robbins’ second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith. Poems are in forthcoming issues of Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Madrid, New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Rattle, and Tar River Poetry. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College.