from “On Knowing”

Ross Robbins


photo credit: L. Ciccarello

To have been red
I glazed in sweat
like honeyed ham
bundled nerves
cliché paté

A whipped fluff
the meat of “heart,
soul, tongue,
devotion”        Increasingly,
devotion is a tally beneath

Accounts Payable
I simply cannot
sustain the burden
there are words
but also rests

I was once soft
as the dauphin
now my hangnails shape
my voice in shrill
and wavered mornings

When tenuous f.m.
static abounds
Must every broadcast end
in metastasis?
Simmer cells hard,

shards I am
now that into shards
I am become:
as musical as         (My God!)
the page’s end       when

shock’s expressed,
penultimate climax, and then
once more into the mistake
When the secret’s a neck
pierced back through to spine

by a boiling look, When
thought is a hiccup
before a guffaw,            When eyes
cross with drowsy while
the mind insists on pecking, still:

.                                     Mark my words:
.                                     In total I am totally in.




Ross Robbins is the founder of Bone Tax Press and the Bone Tax Reading Series. His poems have appeared in Hobart, Vinyl Poetry, and Ampersand Review. A chapbook, All in black blood my love went riding, is available from Two Plum Press, and his full-length debut, Mental Hospital: A Memoir, will be released by YesYes Books in 2015. Visit Ross online at




Editor’s Note:

For the Autumn, this column will tour the Pacific NW.

The Westside of Portland—everything west of the Willamette (will-AA-met) River—is Real Adult Land. Though you won’t see anyone wearing a suit, you won’t see anyone riding around on a 12-ft-tall bicycle, like on the Eastside, or riding their motorcycle while dressed as a samurai, or, for fucking real, playing bagpipes while peddling a unicycle. The Westside is classier, save for a scatter of odd jewels like Ground Kontrol, the old-arcade-games bar, and a few un-remodeled rooms of Powell’s City of Books. The long stretch of Riverfront Park hosts a different micro-brew festival like every weekend of the summer, and statues, students, and semi-dozing heroin addicts line the long stretch of Park Blocks eight blocks west of there.  -DD