Lee Robinson

Sample Poems

Sample Poems from Lee Robinson’s Hearsay

Hear Garrison Keillor of NPR’s Writer’s Almanac read poems from Hearsay (September 2004 / October 2004)

LeeRobinsonPoetryThe Rules of Evidence

What you want to say most
is inadmissible.
Say it anyway.
Say it again.
What they tell you is irrelevant
can’t be denied and will
eventually be heard.
Every question
is a leading question.
Ask it anyway, then expect
what you won’t get.
There is no such thing
as the original
so you’ll have to make do
with a reasonable facsimile.
The history of the world
is hearsay. Hear it.
The whole truth
is unspeakable
and nothing but the truth
is a lie.
I swear this.
My oath is a kiss.
I swear
by everything


There’s no such thing
as the necessary poem;
that’s what saves poetry
from a life like ours,
from desire and striving.
That is not to say a poem
can’t yearn for something
it isn’t yet, can’t crave
a meal of only apricots
or want a one-way ticket
to another country.
It can. We know
how a poem can need so much
it turns to mush, and how
sometimes even out of mud
and mildew rise the most
fantastic flowers. No,
what I mean is different.
That the poem is redeemed
by indifference, that before
it’s written, the world
does very well without it.
Therefore it is free
to be what it wants to be
or not to be at all.
That’s its deliverance,
its saving grace, and why
when it decides to speak
we listen to a language
that is ours, but so unlike us.

A Dream of Horses

In the dark they left the barn
together, the old gelding
leading the younger
to the far pasture.
The moon was full,
the field like snow.
They stood for a long time
looking into the sky,
lifting their heads
as if listening to the stars.
A shiver
ran the length of the young one’s
nose, along his ivory blaze,
then rippled down his back,
and because
they were so close, traveled
to the other.

Deep in the cedar
the waxwings felt it,
awoke to see the flash of light,
the waves of muscles rolling
like a silvered sea, a pounding
of hooves in air, then the silent
pas de deux of flesh and fur,
bone and sinew, reach and curve,
one leading the other
(now the younger, now the older)
until the sky
could hold them no longer
and they were gone.