Monday, June 6, 2022

Valerie Coulton : Two poems (for Elizabeth Robinson

 from Report from the Robinson Society, Vol. 1, No. 1






for Elizabeth and in memory of Colleen


either I’m nobody or I’m a nation
inclined to prose, a measured apocalypse
difficult to spell

to twist around the finger

the myth of death was troubling
and seemed to inhibit the dance

either I’m a clock stroke or a dangerous character
black embroidered
weighed down by language

here is the queen and now the jack of diamonds
shuffle again, let the measure begin




wind troubles the bright
installs a fractured umbrella
inside our art

miracle, wreckage
everything that is




the buzz of a tiny sewing machine




nothing to say
belly against
need more light

oil on canvas

more light




a soul escaping
points to the numbers
finger painted next

to the door

the head is left
behind and the
body a messy

white blur

& now the speckled
black            mind
without mind




after all the losses

leaf mold, graffiti

a friend’s ghost
to stop with




a character
smudged, part of
a distant blur, or

one of a dream number
forgotten at the moment

of waking–worry the
words, the synthetic

fabric cold now in the
color draining time of

year, feet uncovered,
sock as metaphor for

something, life as it
is maybe, a truck parked

outside, work being done
inside a door, some

crosses, numbers to sum,
unintentional face

the beginnings of a small




fire season
yellow sky
leaves of all

a California

in the making

when yellow leaves

or none
or few

soft & woven
maybe October

but look closely
green leaves

in the hands
of the old tree




gasoline & pancakes
the white lines of a parking lot
lost birds & signs

lines across the air
somewhere a phonograph

last lines of a song
long vowels in an ancient mouth

far south, farther
names of places stolen

returned without their skin
come inside now

it’s dinner time




Thinking of Elizabeth is collage work


I see her, so beautiful and alive. Her books, her words. And hear her voice. I remember meeting her and all the feelings that our knowing each other elicited in me over time. I remember that our conversations challenged me and made me think. And, of course, thinking of Elizabeth makes me think of Colleen, and of the generosity of both in their work on EtherDome, how they made me feel welcome and supported when I was getting started with my writing, like modernist attending good fairies. Now more than twenty years have passed. I see Elizabeth very seldom, but the collage is alive with her work and the sense of her being there. It was wonderful to have her be a part of the palabrosa project with her chapbook Three Efforts at Arrival and a Series of Departures, and to have her poems, and Randy’s, in parentheses. I don’t know what else to say. The sun is coming out and all I feel is gratitude.






Valerie Coulton’s books include still life with elegy, small bed & field guide (both from above/ground press), open book and The Cellar Dreamer (both from Apogee Press). With husband Edward Smallfield, she’s the co-author of lirio and anonymous (both from Dancing Girl Press). She lives in Barcelona and co-edits parentheses, an annual journal of international writing. She is also a co-editor at Apogee Press and she curates, an online chapbook and interview series. 


most popular posts