Poems by Robert James Russell


It’s that laugh of hers that gets me

(gets me every time)

like an electric shock it wakes me,

pounds me prattling into cohesion,

and with one look in her eyes

(those greenmarbled sunsets)

I know.

She sees the patterns no one else does,

the beauty of it all,

her words floating up and around

over me

over us

always beaming bright, that smile that laugh of hers

(those greenmarbled sunsets).


She’s an obese woman whose clothes
don’t fit: shirts that ride up too high
her belly hanging out her pants
suctioned to her strangely pegged legs.
Her ballooned cheeks are always chapped pink
her lips little slivers peeled back over
small beige teeth like riverstones
set in swollen gums. Her hair is
luxurious but she doesn’t seem
to know what to do with it; she often
touches loose strands when people walk by,
a nervous tick perhaps.
Her sister is always visiting and they
gather outside my window
pacing and talking in loud practiced dialogues
about their collective woes.
She’s married to a Mexican man
half her size named Marco whom
she fights with daily, usually about
their daughter, a small wispy thing
that never makes a peep.
She has eyes like wildfires
but you can tell, talking to her even briefly,
that she doesn’t expect to get
to where it is she wishes she was going.

I’m very worried that
you’ll find some reason to leave me
so I tend to act overly assertive
and dominant
due to my insecurities
but I hope you understand that
this is for your own good
and soon you’ll know
how much I love you.

~ by yearzerowriters on June 9, 2010.

20 Responses to “Poems by Robert James Russell”

  1. These range from beautiful to downright scary (the last one). The two middle ones are my favourites – they have so much to say. Woman at the Bar in particular is so rich, and so powerful, a ringing indictment of the casual, non-physical but in no way trivial violence with which we slowly destroy the human workd around us (often, ironically of course, whilst expounding the virtue of caring for the non-human world). Haunting and wonderful.

  2. Thanks, Dan. Woman at the Bar is my favorite as well – and it is based on someone I actually did see at the bar. Odd how that happens. how you can be so quick to judge someone when you know nothing about them, only to have the realization later on that they were actually more meaningful to you than the fleeting glance you afforded them earlier on. Still can’t stop thinking about her.


  3. […] You can find them all right here. […]

  4. especially love the 2nd and 4th poems

  5. Love the fourth one.

    • I can see why – there’s something of the rhythm of Conversation in a Basement about it

  6. I can assure everyone the fourth one is NOT based on actual events. 🙂

  7. All of these poems are about women, loving them, hating them, pitying them, fearing them.

  8. ‘her lips little slivers peeled back over
    small beige teeth like riverstones
    set in swollen gums. Her hair is
    luxurious but she doesn’t seem
    to know what to do with it’ – super stuff. A nice bunch of poems. The first one is like a summer song. I read the woman at the bar ages ago, on your blog, it is strong. Reminds me of a song by The Specials: ‘Pearl’s Cafe’ I love this song. Have you heard it? ‘wrinkles that went on for days’ – great line.

    Penny Goring

  9. Love these! Watch about Robert James, you’re going to be a star if you’re not careful.

  10. I find the last one unbelievably sad, not creepy in any way. And I can’t figure out which one I like best.

  11. Woman at the Bar knocks my socks off. And
    “she doesn’t expect to get
    to where it is she wishes she was going.”
    Wow, wow, wow.

    Incredible, Robert!

  12. […] here’s the teaser. He posted some poems on his blog and they were also featured on Year […]

  13. […] Robert James Russell You’ve seen a couple of incredible pieces from Robert James Russell, whose slacker style has already knocked a few socks off, and now we are […]

  14. I love Woman at the Bar it’s my favorite, its kinda sad and truthfull

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