Open Mic Blog

Mississippi Poet: Robert West

Posted on April 6, 2009 at 11:09 AM

*For Laura


Half an hour before sunset,

the rain all but over,


a rainbow appeared, a real

giant, set off to brilliance


by a backdrop even more

towering of billowy black cloud,


circumscribed in turn by a

fainter arch outside the first —


nature gone over the top,

one fine excess after another.


Originally published  in Pembroke Magazine no. 36 (2004)


and is included in West’s 2005 chapbook Best Company.





*To Apostrophe


from Greek apostrephein, “to turn away”



Not you, O punctuation mark

strangely suggesting both possession and absence,

but you, the other one,

there with your back turned and talking

while hoping — how obvious you are —

we eavesdrop on all these harangues

of the sun and the moon, ceramics and songbirds,

not to mention all manner of abstraction.

You even call out to the poor, naïve dead,

who took “Rest in peace” for a promise.

Never speechless confronting the speechless,

you praise and lament

and sometimes inflict frantic nonsense

on anything and anyone perfectly well off

without your approval or mourning.

You bend unbendable ears, attend to what pays no attention.

But we know the performance is really for us,

and know that you know that we know.

“Odd” comes from Old Norse for “triangle”;

your oddity fascinates us almost beyond words.


Originally published in The Carolina Quarterly vol. 57. no. 2 (2005)



Robert West is the author of two chapbooks: Best Company and Out of Hand. His poems also appear in the anthologies Don’t Leave Hungry: Fifty Years of Southern Poetry Review (ed. James Smith), The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (ed. Joseph Parisi and Stephen Young), and Motif: Writing by Ear (ed. Marianne Worthington). He teaches in the English Department at Mississippi State University.



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