Robert McDonald


 Carly Bartel

Postcard from the #36 Bus

The girl who holds her father’s hand
so tightly on the bus—look at her

look up at him: there is always enough adoration,
even in this jilted scrap heap of a world.

The young man with the soul patch beard
and backwards corduroy cap,

couldn’t you lunch on the swiftest
of his questioning gazes? A glance of hope,

or the unruly stare of longing. A stolen kiss,
tongues in the vestibule, seconds before

the other guests arrive for the wedding: sparrows
in a glance, sparrows or kisses and who can tell the difference?

Postcard from the Cape of Good Hope

Once upon a time, with wings. Or the leap
of a dog, the joy of a stick

flung into the air, when you’ve spent all day
cooped up in a cage—oh, this life is always enough

to break the heart. Sometimes it’s just a word:
knives, say, or ash, repeating in your head

when you walk down the street. Remember a night,
autumn, the wind, all whirligig and crackle, swooping up

maple leaves as you ran to the house of a lover—
in that mad waltz you catch sight of the moon,

her fat golden face in the branches of the trees,
a soprano fulfilling her final obligation—as a child

you assumed that at some point, given
the wind, a dog’s bark, ashes, the moon,

as a child, before you punched the clock
in the offices of love, you thought: “at any

moment, as a crow or a hawk
or a dark school of starlings,

I might be lifted up
off the surface of the world.”

Postcard Mailed Before the Storm

Green said: Before the storm
arrives I own
the whole field,
the grass
of course always,
but in the time before
the storm arrives I own
the rippled grass
and the clouds

above the field;
watch me fly in front
of the thunder, a shimmer
on the necks of startled pigeons,
they carousel over the parking lot
in the storm’s first downdraft,
when the wind smells like copper,
and sometimes even
the lightning is green.

Postcard from a Dark Avenue, Near Midnight

How could you not love Glenwood Avenue at 11:30
on a Sunday night, as summer’s first electric fans inhale

damp June? Catalpa trees imitate frowsy aunties, and the peonies
are party dresses left out in the rain. Past a spiked iron fence, a man

in his pajamas croons, “C’mon, baby, pee for daddy,” to the most
asthmatic bulldog in the world. In the night air: a baseball game, a cello,

a couple’s argument on the street: “I’ll tell you what the fuck I want,
I have been saying it every day now for two and a half years!”

but you walk on before he says it once more, on a dark avenue,
near midnight, past dim blue lanterns in the hosta gardens,

past couples silent and holding hands. As falling spidersilk catches
on your arms, the walk turns into a kind of prayer:

God bless the mud smell, God bless mud.
Let’s rescue every drowned geranium

on every front porch. God bless every person who says,
“This, I want this: to be a footsoldier in the army of joy.”

Robert McDonald’s writings have appeared in a wide variety of online and print journals, including most recently Phantom Kangaroo, Ramshackle Review, The Prose-Poem Project, and La Petite Zine. He works as a bookseller and lives in Chicago.

Robert McDonald at The Book of Voices (e-poets network)

Robert McDonald at Lives of the Spiders (his blog)


3 responses to “Robert McDonald”

  1. Richard Fox says:

    Exquisite! What a lovely pairing of image & text.

  2. […] of Robert’s postcard series most recently appeared at Escape into Life. Otherwise, his writing has appeared in a bunch of journals: Elimae, Pank, The Prose-Poem Project […]

  3. very thoughtful, and beautiful.

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