Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poetry Broadsides in Etsy Shop

I've added 13 new poetry broadsides from Chatter in the Canopy to my Etsy Shop. See them here:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jeff Roberts Reading Poems on North Andover TV

On September 17, North Andover's Poet Laureate Gayle Heney and members of the North Andover Community Access TV station recorded a group of regional contemporary poets reading their work. Headlining the event was Newburyport's Alfred Nicol. I was fortunate to be included with him in this program reading two of my own poems: Beach Glass and Hope. Scheduling info appears here:

Contemporary Poetry 2011
Event Date: 9/17/2011
Length: 00:29:53
Channels: Comcast 22; Verizon 24

Schedule Information:
10/15/2011 at 2:00 PM
10/18/2011 at 7:00 PM
10/22/2011 at 2:00 PM
10/25/2011 at 7:00 PM
10/29/2011 at 2:00 PM
11/1/2011 at 7:00 PM
11/5/2011 at 2:00 PM
11/8/2011 at 7:00 PM
11/12/2011 at 2:00 PM

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sadly, Our Geniuses Linger - For Oscar Levant

Sadly, Our Geniuses Linger
(for Oscar Levant)

This witty suicide shtick is killer. I eat it up man.

You drink for free. The room comes with the gig.
Your ladder's got no bottom rung. Your keys don't fit nothin'.
Nothin' springs. Nothin' gets explored. You ain’t checked out
Nothin' since them smoke-yellow tiles
slipped into the sky's clothing.

When you was movin' you plinked them keys. Now
Them fingers dig the rough pine leading up them seventeen steps
To your room. You memorize them everyday
On your way down. All you need to get home
Is to count seventeen. You walk like a sea horse man!
How d’you climb them steps anyway?

Every night ends with one long moan from the bottom
Of the scale. Ain't never true—never cathartic—only lazy.
That last note slides flat or straightens up just sharp enough
For pity to sing its only lyric. And I sing along. I applaud your style.
I listen. Each wire you rap shakes and wails its dirge. If you
Could stand you'd show me how to bend a note
‘round my neck like silk. Instead you prop them chins
In your palm like you're marble and off center
Like some project out front of the library.

That Steinway gonna make a grand coffin—huge and dark
Like a yard of loam. That snifter gonna stand—a fitting but fragile
Stone. Wet rings gonna bleach the polish. They gonna circle
Places on that map for future crooners.

Forgotten squares leach the shapes of a hundred
Carbon fingernails into the edges of that classic lid
Leaving some fine filigree of frantic grasping.

© 2008 Jeffrey Roberts

Drawing of Oscar Levant by Brian Forrest
11 x 14
conte on paper
Used with Permission.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Boatman

Every time the Boatman leans
Against his pole and pushes
The water's solid floor—the pole
Turns into a newspaper hat.

The canal is littered with old news

Like the bleeding gray dye of a cheap
Sweater in the wash. Should I try
Pushing a boat with a paper hat
Or is motion more personal than that?

Sumi-e ink-wash drawing by Doug Heinlein © 2009

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Springtime Again

Her Unusual Journey

She never travels to where Polaris
augers his flag and claims all around it
for the King of Winter. Nor will she visit
where horses pull the wind.
Her warm airs annoy the mean temperatures.

She travels from the middle of somewhere and back
spreading between degrees of mercury and latitude.

In Barrow, doors open no wider than a trash bag.
The garbage still freezes hard. The caribou warm
within the whisper of the pipeline.

Closer to home, the granite knuckles of my ancestors
protrude from beneath the snow. I feel her in my finger tips.
I hear her hum and crack the lake like taffy.
Periscopes of crocus rise and mark
the bearings of her ship steaming north.

Her unusual journey begins in the middle
and ends where she turns, slapping her pockets
as if noticing forgotten keys
to retrace her obvious steps.

Her Unusual Journey was first published in the Lawrence (Massachusetts) Eagle Tribune. (Winner of the Annual Poetry Contest 1999)

It was later published in Aurorean Magazine.

From the book Chatter In The Canopy Poems by Jeff Roberts; Drawings by Dick Roberts and Doug Heinlein, ©2008 Jeff Roberts, Booksurge, Charleston SC, ISBN-10: 1439214816; ISBN-13: 978-1439214817; LCCN: 2008909362. Available from &

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Rookery

Here's a nice visual reference for the lines: When the Bakhtiari herd their goats back/Into the highlands ... a 10-minute documentery film on the annual Bakhtiari migration in Iran.

The Rookery
In late October, a chill settles in the basement.
In the third floor bedroom, an antiqued-blue chest
At the foot of the bed becomes a nesting ground.

Several species of shorts winter here: cut-off denims,
Silk boxers, one-hundred-percent-cotton chinos.
Plaid baggies puff their pleats to scare interlopers.

Mating pairs entice each other with floppy pockets.
The shorts breed; they rear; they remain for months,
Fighting off wash-day trespassers, day-old underwear,

Wallets, wedgies, and wanderlust. In mid May,
When the Bakhtiari herd their goats back
Into the highlands; when the Pennacooks hike north

To Concord; when martins, swallows, terns, and warblers
Wing their way up coasts, the shorts tentatively explore
The second floor, testing the breezes, warming to travel.