Louise Robertson – three poems


I hate that my name means love. I hate
that my name, when written or spoken,
means I have to say “love” to you, to everyone.
It’s embarrassing. When
you flash your bleached teeth at me,
I don’t want to love you. When you
simper and whine and jerk
yourself back and forth, anxious
as a weed on a highway, I don’t want to love you.
My parents did this to me. How could
they know that it feels like I’m
Superman when I love someone
except that, instead of opening
my shirt to reveal a bright S, when
I open my ribs — like the wings
of a jacket — my lungs and
pancreas fall out. I hate that.
I don’t want to please you. I don’t
want to teach you anything. I
do not want to do as my mother did
in the kitchen
when she peeled off the cardboard
outsides of the celery, pulled off the strings
and the fiber, worked out
the soft, sweet inside stem, and
held it up for me.
It’s the best part she said,
then she gave it away.

Brain Pan Anniversaries

We are listing the ways the leaves
scratch the pavement. I say they’re like hands;
you say like feet. Our brains don’t know
calendars, but they know the smell
of burning yard waste. And the smell of
sprinkler water. And the smell of
manure fertilizing the damp earth.
And the smell of snow colored
with exhaust. That could be our
lungs there. You were born
in the time of the chrysanthemums
and hot cicada buzz. He was born
in the time of dry grass. A long
time ago, we were under the ground and climbed
up into the light grabbing at
other people’s stories like
they were ours. Hands, feet,
we’re all sometimes trying to get
under the ground again.


Like a cathedral:
inside your mouth. The apex gives
it away, as high and rigid as a spine.
The arch of your foot; I catch your foot
in my hand like a fish. Your ribs,
cuddling as they do the lungs. When
you breathe out words, it’s bellows
to the fireplace. The big walk-in fireplace.
Your skin does a great service
to the naves and fonts of your body.
Who doesn’t love
the architecture and the vestments?
So many altars. Gospel. Song. Pulpit.
I should believe. Body. Voice. Mind. Mouth.

Louise Robertson has earned degrees (BA Oberlin, MFA George Mason University), poetry publications (Pudding Magazine, Crack the Spine, Borderline – among others) and poetry awards (Mary Roberts Rinehart, Columbus Arts Festival Poetry Competition – among others). Brick Cave Media published her full-length book, The Naming Of, in December 2015. She is active as a poet and organizer in her local Columbus, Ohio poetry scene. Someone once said about Robertson that, underneath it all, she is kind.

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