Robinson’s Telephone Rings

By Kathleen Rooney Kathleen Rooney
the Tuesday after he was last seen.
A policeman is there to pick the shrill thing up.
Who is it? the couple of friends present ask as he cups it to his ear.
Then hangs up. There was no one there.
They have come to recon a vacant property—a mise en scéne:
Knoll butterfly chairs—a pair of them—
two red socks soaking in the white bathroom sink,
a saucer of milk for the cat to drink,
a stack of reel-to-reel tapes,
a matchbook from the Italian Village where he ate his last spaghetti
& two books he’d been re-reading, or wanted someone to think he
The Devils & The Tragic Sense of Life.
Preoccupation & a certain mode of self-presentation.
Even when absent, Robinson has a style.
No wallet, though. No watch, no sleeping bag, no bankbook.
The apartment looks the way it feels to read a newspaper that’s one
day old.
The policeman wants to go back outside, among the lemons & fog &
barking dogs.
Out where the sun can copper their faces.
Writing takes space, recordings take time.
The place puts the policeman in mind of something he read recently,
about the collapse of a dead star.
About how it takes ages for the light to become motionless.
Seven years after a disappearance, a person can be pronounced dead.
But that’s nothing compared to the size of the ocean.

Kathleen Rooney, “Robinson’s Telephone Rings” from Robinson Alone. Copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Rooney. Reprinted by permission of Gold Wake Press.

Source: Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012)

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Poet Kathleen Rooney

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Death, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Kathleen  Rooney


Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. She is also the author of seven books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (2012). She is also the coeditor of René Magritte: Selected Writings, forthcoming fall 2016 from Alma Books (UK) and University . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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