Robert McDonald



Besides, the White Chickens

Even as the red wheelbarrow stands soldier beside them, the white chickens cannot be your only friends. 

Boys in underpants stand under the bridge and the train crosses the trestle above.

If a white chicken is your friend you should not bite its head off.

From a distance I thought I saw chickens pecking in the dirt, but it was maids gone milking.

Naked chickens come damply home to roost.

You wonder if you might die of loneliness, or if your mother's wedding dress could save you, the sulfered lace a net against your skin.

I kissed the neighbor boy because I thought it's what he wanted.

And the chickens in the dusty coop have hopes that you are not the last mad dog.

Your father dredged up a boat from the bottom of the river; paint it white to match the chickens.

The source of any river is a mystery.

A map of the world, made of chicken scratchings, was half worn away in the side yard dirt.

I am I because in this fog I do not know me.

Your mother's wedding dress is the net that prevents you from falling into every open grave.




The Cut in the Sky Bled Silver

As a child I longed to wear a school uniform, to be sent away from home and wear the same thing the other boys wore: short pants, a red and blue-striped tie.

Night delivers its sad acknowledgements as we answer or we do not answer the questions put to us by people whom we love.

A woman stands behind a woman at dressing table mirror, both of them trying on different shades of lipstick.

By that time, evening arrived, and a tree had grown up from the living room floor.

Sometimes I'm just a shy boy trying to memorize my lines, and the tattered script is missing pages.

She's ten years older than she claims to be, but she loves literature and loves her students with the same tired ferocity she bestows on her lovers.

Make me a new thing, winged and adorned.

I spotted a knife, a crescent moon, its cut in the sky bled silver.

Make me a new thing, pearled and constructed of nothing but want.

The sentries are maple trees, they bow only to the wind.

We do not change, or we change as the moon changes, new every night but each night assuming a previous form.

How to describe the end of things: the bluing is the sky.

The threatened rain falls, violent, bountiful, not at all like the touch of your hands.




A Yellowing Document Explaining the Sun

Experiencing this thunderstorm is one of the few times I've felt like I was learning without being taught.

This is why we were talking about rules, and one of those rules is not using tricks.

The heirs to the underground no longer seem to fish the same streams.

From point A to point B might be a seductive journey.

Beware of the aging canary in its tarnished copper cage.

His father was an artist under the old regime.

On most days, you would encounter ducks and chickens and guinea fowl performing in the theater.

But all the long hours add up to something more.

Taped by the door: A yellowing document explaining the sun.

It's not clear where marriage can lead, except to some sort of mystery.

Back away, and the elementary shapes begin to constitute themselves.

Consult the medium, ask the ghosts to tell you that you are not alone.

Name the lilacs, the scent of them, call it Childhood, call it Spree.