ROBBIE Q.
TELFER

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.

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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.

PENULTIMATE RITES

Aging again

lost my keys

wish you were   hear.

 

I don’t care what the teens say

smoking looks cool.

 

Grapes grasp

skin splits

too soon

open chrysalis

can’t close

glue the skein

tape the crease

more like can’terpillar

you get an F, oblivion

The Island of Stuck Sneezes

more like

dormant land

mine

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.

No disrespect.

 

Stanza is Italian for room

Costanza is Italian for a room

you share with someone you met

online.

 

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?

 

Please write.

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

not nothing.