James P. Roberts is the author of 14 books spanning the fields of fantasy and science fiction, poetry, literary biography and baseball history. He is a regional Vice-President for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and has organized and hosted the annual Winter Festival of Poetry in Madison since 2010. He has read at Woodland Pattern on numerous occasions and considers the Poetry Marathon one of the highlights of his year. He is also passionately devoted to Little Free Libraries and women’s flat-track roller derby.
To a Fellow Poet
I ate a small pizza tonight,
Saving the five dollars
To buy a copy of your latest collection.
For truly, do not words – gaudy
Or sublime – create their own
Nourishment? The hole in my stomach
Has been filled by greater stuff
Than apple jelly rolls
Or a crisp toasted baguette.
Take my offering as I take
Your thoughts, spend it wisely
As I shall coin these poems
Deep in the bank of my brain.
The interest will only grow
(a hard thing to do in these times!)
Until the images overflow,
Least of which is the residue
Of that small pizza swirling
In an ocean of 32 pages,
Front to back, beginning to end:
Greatness beckons, I hunger yet.
Plays with his Fisher-Price plastic toys.
He is larger than life.
His gap-toothed Godzilla grin widens
As he smashes his Big Rig on the floor,
Takes a light-weight hammer
To the woodwork and screams
In joyous rapture,
Watching tiny human figures
Scurry into hidey-holes. He reaches
Swiftly and grabs a victim, brings the bright
Orange-haired woman closer to eye, looking
For a playmate, a cohort willing to share
His thrill of destruction.
His baby brain is aware, however,
That, despite miniature helicopters
Swarming above his playpen
And the camouflaged soldiers readying
Their popguns, these portable components
Will be replaceable
(must keep baby happy!)
Just in time
For his next birthday.
She wears her tilted kilt
At a saucy angle,
The bangles on her white
Knee-high stockings jingle
As she steps to my table
In her shiny black shoes.
Her visible skin, tattoo-less
To my gaze, gleams
In the glow of TV screens
And dioramas of young women in bikinis
On a beach somewhere
Far away from reality.
White shirt tied together in a knot
Beneath outthrust cleavage
Framed by strands of dark hair,
She places a personalized coaster
Signed “Maddie” and smiles brightly,
Her brown eyes soft as charcoal.
This is her last night
Before The Tilted Kilt closes its doors
Here for good. They are already
Out of the menu item I wished to order,
So I settle for a burger
And enlivening companionship.
I will miss these girls,
The anticipatory thrill
Of masking and unmasking myself,
To forget the advance of age
And make of this moment
A poem, an ode, a delicate
Glass-fronted casement of memory.
Woodland Pattern is nonprofit book center in the heart of Riverwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are dedicated to the discovery, cultivation and presentation of contemporary literature and the arts.