Two Poems by Robin Ray

These two poems by Robin Ray explore spiritual, if not literal, homelessness—that feeling of being untethered to a sense place or even a consistent story of self—as the defining experience of our time: “I haven’t/ secured a home in my wandering,/ not one place to rest my depression.”

by: Robin Ray

Invisible Slab of Town

autumn’s impenetrable fog       casualties invisible

in the chowder-like mist        my accomplice waits

bayonet in hand      nerves steeled for the outcome

what did steely dan mean       when they sang

this is the day          of the expanding man?

a grotesque explosion           too x-rated to consider?

this endless warring with sanity             breaks me

like a sculptor whose eyes           turned against him

in some slabs of this town           a lie gets you killed

don’t ramble there without a horse          that’s lost

its nose for danger         the cabbie will swerve

around you          bleeding your soul out on the street

zombies scavenge your pockets           funds for a fix

they fibbed by saying          this city reeks of grease

it’s wretchedness we smell           unstaged, vulgar.



punitive encounters     evidenced by

++stifled inhibitions

trailing semaphores to pennants

++of sea-voyaging countries

++++blossoming on the shore

five-petal orchid         immortalized

++on hong kong’s flag

++++in a field of blood

moths, cloth empowered, flaunt, bit by bit

++++++their bitter taste

++++++++to the overlords

i am still, resplendent, the pink-headed

++duck you’ll never see     past defending

++refusing to date anyone         anymore

hokkaido calls me hikikomori

++self-styled solitarian

++++drowning in bowls of nanakusa-gayu

++++++++seven-herb porridge

once upon a moon

++light swallowed the backstreets

++++reddened by the flames of whores

my shuttered window blocks them

++five stories below            i hear scrapes

like tranquilized bears waking in the alley

there goes me

++++there always goes me.


Robin Ray is the author of Wetland and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press, 2013), Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories, the novels Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven and Commoner the Vagabond, and one book of non-fiction, You Can’t Sleep Here: A Clown’s Guide to Surviving Homelessness. His works have appeared, or is appearing, at Red Fez, Scarlet Leaf Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Spark, Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Picaroon Poetry, The Bangalore Review, The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere.

One reply on “Two Poems by Robin Ray”
  1. says: Arthur Rosch

    You have to go there to understand something like these poems. They’re dark. We experience the full extent of life through its contrasts. What’s dark? What’s light? Where’s the borderline where they bleed into each other? Here? Maybe.You can’t convince me that these poems were written by a corpse. They’re too strong. If Robin is wrestling with his skeleton, I hope he holds his own. We need poets. We don’t need their poems but we need poets, badly. Robin is a poet. Stay alive, friend.

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