Robbie Q. Telfer has performed and taught in hundreds of venues and institutions around the world. A co-founder of the Encyclopedia Show, he's been an individual finalist at the National Poetry Slam and has a collection from Write Bloody Publishing. He is currently an environmental educator at The Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago.
ONE TIME IN HIGH SCHOOL I THOUGHT I SMOKED WEED OUT OF A MOUNTAIN DEW BOTTLE BONG, BUT I FOUND OUT LATER IT WAS JUST TOBACCO
Every time I open the spice cabinet
to look for coffee filters or whatever
a ghost of your flavor curation wafts
through me. Populated entirely by
spices you bought and organized,
if it was just my cabinet alone it’d be
salt, garlic, garlic salt, and an ant trap
but the specific kiss of your taste museum
is easily my favorite ghost.
After your diagnosis I try weed for
the very first time, which is fine,
but times three and four are when
the party starts. We just sit on the
couch, our eyes closed, talking. I
tell you that kissing you makes
two dragonflies appear
in my brain, two dragonflies
continuously bumping their dragonfly
faces into each other, like kissing
yourself in a mirror, I see frogs
a hundred frogs’ eyes sticking up
just above the water line glowing
gold where the flashlight shines.
You say that is terrifying, that I
know about your thing with
frogs and I try to explain why it
is so beautiful and stuff—
us in this wetland at night, rather
we are the dark marsh where
organic matter decays slow,
where people walk slow,
where we are home to
inaccessible uncountable life,
where fragrant death
is manifold habitat, and a hundred
golden eyes can suddenly surface
from the duckweed and crud.
lost my keys
wish you were hear.
I don’t care what the teens say
smoking looks cool.
glue the skein
tape the crease
more like can’terpillar
you get an F, oblivion
The Island of Stuck Sneezes
we can mend the pants
but we can’t remove the scrotal vision
seared into retinas
wrong kind of fixed.
The bus drivers
all go make out
during your field trip.
Worse ways to pass days.
The gesture, the gestural
the ephemeral urinal.
Stanza is Italian for room
Costanza is Italian for a room
you share with someone you met
You only hear the negative stories
about dying in space.
Is anyone who was at O’Hara’s funeral still alive?
What of the dune buggy driver?
WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THESE VHS TAPES?
"Is a million zeros nothing?"— Iris, age 4
A thousand pounds
of feathers is heavier than
a little bit less than that.
If you remove your intestines
and stretch them out straight
you’ll be dead in at least three
different states. If all of time is
a bowl of fancy soup then
humans have only existed
in one of the little puddles
left at the fancy bottom of time.
If you slowly replace all your
meat with the meat of others
until every meat molecule is
interchanged you are still the same
person on the other side
because if you’re not then
what the hell are we right now?
When a piano dies it is
brought to the piano cemetery
where all of the keys are removed
except middle C
and all of the people at the funeral
are given one of the digits
which is why every piano
in its entire life
will only ever ever be played by
exactly 87 people
and we all know that
you don’t have the time
to ever ever prove me wrong.
And yes it’s nothing and that’s