person Robyn Brooks, four poems

Robyn Brooks, poet and playwright, is the author of the poetry chapbook, venus in retrograde (Finishing Line Press, 2015). She holds an M.F.A. in Poetry, from Mills College, and a B.A. in English, from UC Berkeley. An Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize in Poetry recipient, a former Student-Teacher-Poet for June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and a VONA/Voices alum/fellow, her poetry has been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Penumbra, Milvia Street, The Walrus, The Womanist, What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, Generations Literary Journal, Blues Arrival: Stories of the Queer Black South and Migration, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. A playwright, with PlayGround, in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2007-2013, her plays have been staged at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for Monday Night PlayGround, Tennessee Women’s Theater Project Women’s Work, Theatre of Yugen, Los Angeles Women’s Theater Project and Theatre Rhinoceros.


indigo dusk

there are some things
done only at night
behind curtains
beneath the eyes
beyond the screeching
and wailing
of the last train
in solitude
hidden inside
black hats
and barking dogs
rolled up like ghosts
in sleeping bags
in post-office doorways
where antiseptic death
impatiently waits
in elevators
where night and twilight
dance and fall
where baby birds
hide beneath wings
of old owls
and patriarchs slip in
between incestuous sheets
swimming in twelve-year-old
scotch and virgin blood
where old lovers call
to twist the knife
and lick the wound
and the Gods expose
their divinity

*previously published in The Walrus and venus in retrograde


entangled (and the poet contemplates complications)

I lost two cities, lovely ones, And vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a
—Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

caught between
a rock
and a
ragged rickshaw
or a red wagon
half filled with
one wheel
a rock
and a honey-tongued
femme fatale
with her eye
on the clock
and a stethoscope
in her hand
a rock
and lost
or prom night
a rock
and crashing
or wedding
caught between
a rock
and the
sky-cloud god
or white-powdered

a rock
and the
sound of flapping
birds’ wings
in the distance
behind the mountains
pressing in

a rock
and your voice
in my ear
whispering everything
except you love me
a rock
and old peeled skin
shed daily
at sunrise

*previously published in Penumbra and venus in retrograde


before the tempest

I shall forget you, presently, my dear
—Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sonnet XI

before the tempest
she imagined Ariel
a girl whirling past
an unwashed window
wispy windswept skirt
whipping lively wild legs
without hose or control
reminding her now
how things can just go —
how calculated melancholy
looks when left unattended
and precise sadness masquerades
as scattered madness
or bright folded towels all in a row
this much she knows —
the park is no longer
just for the birds
and no one really
cries for the dead
only for themselves
and the bells that ring ring only for her
a code that only she can decode
this is her test —
not dropping the teapot
as the tempest attempts to enter

*from venus in retrograde


black august confession

black august confession
was the scene
disembodied angels
daemons dangling
angling for

slightly paranoid
sing up the sum
of our birth

this is their story
set in an auspicious
august shade
of black

*previously published in Penumbra and venus in retrograde


2 thoughts on “person Robyn Brooks, four poems

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s