Expansive Poetry & Music Online Contemporary Reprint

Two Poems by Robert Darling

Reprinted by special permission of Robert Darling

"Puberty" originally appeared in Envoi in 1990.

"The Muse has Moved to Iowa" originally appeared in The Lyric in 1987.

Robert Darling is a poet who has appeared in dozens of fine journals over the past twenty years. A long-time student, biographer and critic of A.D. Hope, the splendid Australian poet, essayist, critic and scholar, Robert Darling lives with an assortment of domesticated animals and friends somewhere in the Finger Lakes in New York State. He also holds forth as a professor at Keuka College. Sadly, there is no known image of Dr. Darling, who, it is reported, has caused cameras to stop working and would-be photographers to sneeze uncontrollably until they've either dropped their instruments or Robert has left the room. He has a more substantial beard than he will readily admit to. R.S. Gwynn, the critic, poet and Texan who appears elsewhere in Expansive Poetry & Music Online, reports that Robert Darling once closely resembled the actor James Mason but that, when it became clear he would never be able to get the jobs James Mason was getting in such movies as Lolita, he grew a beard, which has become so enormous that local bluebirds have tried to nest in it, to the consternation of all three of the resident cats at Dr. Darling's residence, including Seamus. We wish him well and thank him for his contributions.


after Munch

by Robert Darling

Copyright (c) 1990 by Robert Darling

This naked girl who sits at her bed's edge

uneasily is just fourteen at most,

her breasts unshaped, arms crossed over her crotch,

her eyes wide with the silent terror of knowledge

not yet revealed but somehow sensed. a ghost

along the bone. The shadows surge up to catch

her frail and shivering form in their black arms.

Behind her eyes a savage world takes shape

where tenderness prepares the way for force,

where all are prey and none escape unharmed,

where casual meeting leads to casual rape

and she is ridden like a beaten horse.

She shudders, gets in bed, pulls up the quilt

and curls against the onslaught of this world,

a dark night she's uncertain she'll survive.

Her sleep is troubled by a sense of guilt

she has not earned. Now nightmare plagues this girl

who in five years will eat her men alive.

	Robert Darling, 1990

The Muse Has Gone to Iowa

for Calliope, MFA (Hon.)

by Robert Darling

Copyright (c) 1987 by Robert Darling

The Muse has moved to Iowa.

Her bags unpacked, she settles in

but finds the plainsfolk rather raw

and calms her former discipline.

Soon callers come, a vast parade

of earnest souls in earnest pain.

They spring up, poets ready-made,

like toadstools after summer rain.

She finds democracy's ideal

for those who shun the test of rhyme:

a poet is anyone who feels

and feeling makes a thought sublime.

It's flat in Iowa and plain

but people feel so deeply there

where tender bards in blissful pain

can earn their private Croix de Guerre.

All life is art out there, a place

that's somehow out of space and time;

hearts hung on sleeves display the grace

of sheets hung limply on a line.

What's vaguest felt is finest made:

sprawl in the self and drink your fill,

you poets, who come to learn your trade

like swine gone rushing to their swill.

	Robert Darling, 1987

When the previous was published, the author reports, a correspondent sent a letter declaring that Robert was right about the writing program but wrong about the state!

Return to home page page.