Issue 18: Robert Lietz

Like an Aperitif


                                                                                                        Like an Aperitif

     Here's the charge, the chance to impress, negotiate,

explore the woods and fields,

enjoying the sense of property, the inspired ownership

you feel among the poems, prints,

the quilts in progress or completed, and only a step or so

from summer-times in Maine

or Mexico, from our dreams, Elizabeth, care-taken

through predicaments

and pleasures, with this day-lit moon to suit,

and this noon light

fit to the equation, like an aperitif


cannot help but share




     What if the Gouda Buddha, the Beckster down

their snack-stick dynamite,

then slip out past the cops to a more-isolated courting,

bristling at a thought, and

if the GB's propped, that squeaky wheel under him,

believing he'll wash himself

tonight to start the weekend, to celebrate the cold

and detonations a man brings on himself,

filled with the leftovers a winter afternoon's arranged for him? 

Doesn't this last glow suit, and these crumbs,

shooed along curb-lines, picked up as his distractions,

shouldn't these crumbs appeal to him,

no less than this dark he cannot identify, just as that bird

wings off, and a second, with Beck's faces? 

He wakes himself, imagining the broader destinations

between one eye and another, and

the winds between, so that the dark itself holds suit,

deposits what it will, when

the President's set to speak, to exorcise the likes

of GB and the Beckster, so

that their meanness does not add up,

even today, to

that dead woman's moment,



                                                                                                       Second Guess

     So we'll pass up the hoops tonight, to hear the President,

and see some pretended courtesy,

short with applause allowed, and silence then, no less composed

than the lies and invented histories,

than the ignorance these northern gals make their trademark,

and their gospel synergy, than these fifty years

since a pre-Watergate, pre-panicked exit from Southeast Asia

January birthday set its meaning in her passing,

in their minds of kids who do not talk, and in the minds

of friends, today, some few

who had said her name and knew she'd listen, leaving

this afternoon to us, and to us this love,

this wintering, this Ohio, say, she never thought

I'd spend a life in, these homecomings

after all, trying to second-guess

the blogs, and lives in motion



                                                                                                       Up for Grabs

     Among our pads, our stitchings, and the house-sounds,

the prints we've matted, matted

and framed and hung, we'll share our takes on an agenda,

on the melt, glazed over and hardened some,

glad for the indoors under us, with nothing of note blocked in

to distract us from attention, nothing

to resist or make up for, intending to start with this, the next

or next to follow entry, on this holiday

for some, with lines I rededicate, imagining what half-lives mean

might, or a refinished home, and

what adds up to a collection, while an administration charms,

and the GOP presumes its odd refinements,

old refrains to denigrate, as if this were only a reinvented history,

or only pre-Civil War America, a fiction

up for grabs, recast by their desires, modeling their compact,

if you will, and, as ever, ignoring

the inconvenient details, making do with pasts, as they believe

pasts should have happened, their

ideas of a century, by design and calculations, and this,

the property of wizards, branched,

branching away in anarchies a tea-party's supplanted,

forgetting how men agreed

to amend their loosely-strung confederation, and

how the world looked on,

approved the second look, and these,

the least,     and

most unfinished touches

     on a nation.


                                                                                                       Means to Pay

     Leftovers tonight.  French onion soup,

penne in vodka sauce, the wine

to be chosen still, after a day the talk buffoons

played spatter-cast

with fact-less arguments, schooled to undercut,

and so clad by roles

and wounds they've self-inflicted or invented,

by their choice eats,

shared besides the gargoyles, on ledges powdering,

with ladders

well-below, that never reached to such high spots

and loneliness, seeming

to gesture at the scene and the depending, at


spent in specious and madder animations, peddling

sensation for sense,

gesticulation for commencement, and influence,

evolving as we watch,

an under-schooled host's been famous for.   There

will be books beyond,

besides, and a third, maybe, sensibly unbound,

adapted to unmoved grey,

and to these snow-backed crossing branches, this

daylong calm we celebrate,

a State of the Union say, and gifted president,


to woo the nation back, from worlds the right

scares up, from

that dreaded packaging an audience apart

enlisted for,

as the whispers aggregate, and prices

set, for ballots

as delivered, by some with

     means to pay.

A Sequence of poems composed in recognitionof my late mother’s ninety-first birthday,and in anticipation of President Obama’s secondState of the Union address.

Thespian Debut

                              Then It's this

     this afternoon I'm thinking on. And it's been years

I guess, since Pete, the trapeze catcher,

     studied to break down knots, to put a body back in order,

a work I suppose the circus work

     prepared for him to master, and now I'm thinking of Chris,

flat-topped, with years done

     in surveillance, if all went well, as planned, went privately,

without a day to brag, with

     grid-irons and pre-millennium classes well behind them, and

west Ohio theater, solicitations,

      a "thespian debut" and weeks of yearbook column-space

to peddle, to northwest

     Ohio interests.  Imagine the spirited refusals a half-dressed 

teenage escort

     saved for him, sharing her better wisdom then, missing

the broader horrors

     the planet held in store, as the pro-leagues failed, as brothels

closed for good,

     vanished in rites of circumstance, in usurpations you think

you might know better than,

     time beings we can guess, re-lived among the gizmos,

punch-lines, and

     the remnants of a century, the whims of delegates, fixed

by their collective influence,

     by the meanness shared, the subjects of lives, lifetimes,

and intersecting fictions

     interest never played a hand in, with no need

for reason,

     no match for the flakey deposits

     they divine by.

Lightning Matches

     See how the lightning matches escalate, depend

alike on intellect and instinct. 

See how the shoes beside the shoes show off designs

you might improve on, released,

as it were, from an antique dispensation, so long

as the Party's up for it,

the sportsmen and sports-mentors, authoring tomes,

words put out for hire, straight

to the fading ends of conversation,  with the words

paid for, paid on,

mistakable and tawdry, hinting Ecclesiastes

say, and rendering redress,

practiced, up to now, by the demoiselles

and prune-suck ancients

     as appointed.

     A randier ill-witted tribe, absorbed and packing, displays

its range and consequence, while

conversations chirr, according to the program, say, with

these first large flakes falling in the Capital,

pretending to talk this out, and investing themselves in jacks,

in tanned birds trained to sing

to their desires, once the expression's set, and

the monologues, conspired

as exegeses, begun in the windy niches say,

where the tan man

sneaks away, and lessons


     Consider the rows, the tables and times, the lightning

there, and the inspired plays, the luncheons

with whom as scheduled, and a last beverage then,

while an afternoon completes

another narrowing of rosters, your sense of the cadence,

as that was, and the contenders, reputed

for cleverness if not for finer thought and details, for

the responses you'd expect,

catching the whims of focus groups, interrupted

in yacht season,

convincing the same who'd been


     by packaging. 

Robert Lietz's poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry,and Shenandoah.  Eight collections of poems have been published, including Running in Place, At Park and East Division, The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press), The Inheritance (Sandhills Press), and Storm Service and After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems (Basal Books). Besides the print publications, poems have appeared in several webzines.