These four poems by Robin Sinclair present us with the varied faces of desperation – that of trauma, of justice. They contort into one another, looking for something real, for faith to become fact, simply wishing for connection when “all that reflects is the story/the cynicism/the marks we’ve left behind.”
by: Robin Sinclair
You Don’t Know What You’ve Done
Will I get drunk and call you,
years later than I should have
or should never – what would be the point
of making you realize,
like waking someone up mid-drunken slumber
to something they refused before the brandy.
Sure they aren’t sobbing, shouting, begging,
you’re a couple after all,
so what would be the point
of listening to someone who said no,
who went to bed and woke up a cracked mirror.
Perhaps selfishly, I’ll put the phone down and let you live
and hope you’ve learned, without me,
what you’ve done.
Her Blankets, Her Bookshelves, and You
Yes, your thin scowl spits,
alone, fireside in a stranger’s home
out with the vision of her
her soul still breathing, Greek-statue muscle
sweat from her hands staining
a sign on the National Mall.
This is war
With her indifference, her intellect, her relationship with God,
mix blood and dirt
With your finger –
Brandy glass and glimmers of who you could be
behind a guilty smile. Rest assured,
others are coming to fill such frightful silence.
It will not be
Much longer here, in her ashes, alone –
Her blankets, her bookshelves, and you.
Chronicle on Mirrored Ceiling
I reflect black cigarette circles on coffee flesh
Winston Light from my teenage fingers, Marlboro Red from you.
I am this grin –
a hint of red glistening between my teeth
the piss down my ankle in fourth grade,
down my chest during our little games
and you, you’re everywhere in time.
I’m simply scars from chicken pox
the ones I hide –
back and ass toward the wall before the lights go out
when I’m sober-fucking someone new.
You’re the false newness, the faux-vulnerability
of whatever he or she or they I’ve kept around long enough to let
tongue at bumps and lines,
the ones from the knife you carved initials with,
the ones I did in a bathroom stall in New Jersey.
They whisper the same dialogue about pain and beauty
and I’m just too tired to be moved by something genuine,
let alone by cliché.
In truth, none of us are real –
Not me, the manic pixie dream queer.
Not you, the happy ending.
All that reflects is the story,
the marks we’ve left behind.
Incense on a Walmart Dresser
Gayle prays over candles,
twists ribbon around photos of John.
He is on his way.
Robin Sinclair is a queer, genderqueer writer of mixed heritage and mixed emotions, perpetually on the road, reading from their debut book of poetry, Letters To My Lover From Behind Asylum Walls (Cosmographia Books, 2018).