One Poem by Sophie Robinson

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art in america

at dusk each day i like to think 
of all my new friends in different parts 
of the city jerking off      running baths
vaping weed    getting sober    running their mouths 
& reading poetry aloud to one another. 
alice says i have the right to repeat myself so i do
alice says you can cry if you need to so i do
she looks away     scrolls pictures 
of dogs on instagram 
& we watch the traffic dancing 
towards the bridge
everybody on their way
                        i want to go far
jameson says i know u know it will get better
i nod closed mouthed in a gesture i believe to convey quiet bravery
(too little too late) 
it’s so hot & close u can almost lick the weather’s face today
                         steam rises off the east river     
in a film god kills herself by removing her own intestines
                                        i don’t have the guts to watch it   
jameson’s poems are so rangey on the bench like a godhead
my mother’s arm is broken & strapped to her side on skype
my dad calls me baby in a text when he’s drunk
i don’t know what this means
                                                             god’s suicide scene
at the cinema last night we didn’t understand a thing but were so happy
just to be there         not on our way 
anywhere.                          i want to go far far
the film said loving someone was the only thing to do
& in it one of the characters described the music he listened to 
as soupy         it’s a bad translation
cori laughs & made a joke in french. un soupçon
the film begins & ends with a woman covered in blood 
& andrew said maybe we are supposed to understand it all backwards
i guess that’s how love works too                     it’s all faith 
until the end            & then you see it 
later for what it is or wasn’t or what it coulda been        the whole trick
when i see your face 
or hear your name 
i want to pass out 
from love 
from sadness 
from shame 
& from regret. 
when i arrived 
in america 
i wished simply 
to drown 
in feeling & forget 
about work 
but then i got 
so wet 
i had to start 
steam rises off the east river.
john giorno says it’s not what happens it’s how you handle it— 
i chew on language here: 
philly cheesesteak      rockaway park
taconic state parkway     restroom     sidewalk 

                      mama i’m so tired
some days i take secret photographs of americana    & feel like a normal
alice & i talk on a bench whilst the sun sets & watch the lights 
in the apartment building opposite turn on
one by one.
last week i drank bourbon & cried
for four nights solid soaking through my sheets 
my t shirts & the mattress. over & over. 
fevery dream in which i see a drunk 
woman (me) doing shots & snorting coke from a key.
i tell her let me help you 
& then i open a wound on her arm 
& remove from the wound a giant plastic egg.
i crack the egg to reveal a small wooden sphere
& from it emerges a large white rat. don’t ask me how.
i put the rat on a leash & walk it back to my apartment.
i go to sleep in my dream petting the rat & wake up feeling good. 
i give the rat breakfast which she eats happily. 
i kiss her head. 
i go back to the bar & find the woman (me) sicker than ever. 
thin, sweating, with two black eyes & a purple arm. 
i say hey what happened 
& she says
you shouldn’t have taken what you took the way you took it.
you shouldn’t have taken what you took the way you took it. 

you shouldn’t have taken what you took the way you took it. 
i leave her on the floor to die. what do i care. i have my rat. 
alice says i have the right to repeat myself so i do. 
on the hot drive from hudson cathy gets me to do impressions 
of different british accents and describe the city 
i come from. when I get back to my apartment 
i vomit in the kitchen sink 
then the bathroom sink 
then the toilet 
then again in the shower. pink ribbons of bile & wine.
I am the only person at the john giorno installation 
in hell’s kitchen on a wednesday afternoon & i cry 
for twenty minutes watching him speak on a twenty foot projector screen. 
thanks for nothing america i did it all without you
i sometimes wish a lesbian could be given this much room. to do
you don’t love me        & the feeling of not being loved comes in waves
                 steam rising off the east river
i kiss my rat’s head. i am such a bad peach. seeing it all backwards.
the world is so big! desire alone makes it small 
there’s nothing funny about being a lesbian today 
on my hands & knees like juiced fruit 
in prayer position at the gallery the cinema the bathroom floor
you shouldn’t have taken what you took the way you took it
when i got back to the apartment the rat was drunk
when i got back to the apartment the rat jerked me off
when i got back to the apartment the rat was me
jameson gets me to stand on stage at the amphitheatre by the river 
to take a picture
steam rises
i lose sight of him for a second & it’s just me & the water & the bridge & the dog 
gently pissing         [self help / fake rumi poem says          
                   only when i quit believing in myself did i come to such beauty]
there’s a power in loneliness i need to channel
there’s a freedom in not being loved i need to channel
it’s not what happens it’s how you handle it
i came to america to be a solid gold flower floating down the river 
& now reduced to repeating my own name out loud, my DOB, where i live
the things i did today. splashing my face in the kitchen sink over & over
honestly i am sick of helping jesus count days
my mother’s limp white arm. the things she gave & took. 
                                               mama i’m so sad
america begins & ends in blood                           i want to go far far far
sometimes i get off on meanness 
                              the holding back the love that’s bucking against the gate
penny arcade says when she came to new york she saw a sign 
at a head shop saying 
      you are a daughter of the universe 
            this city is mine just as much as it’s anyones!
today is my 32nd birthday. i wish i had never been born. 
andy warhol was a fraud. fame is a kind of violence. 
ambition makes me sick. i want to close every door.
i don’t care about kathy acker. i don’t care about anything anymore. 
there’s no art in america, it’s all sugar & war.
i shouldn’t have taken what i took the way i took it        but listen:
wherever in the world    
                                    if i never see you again
       always on your way 
somewhere    i will love you        
the whole length 
of my life             
i want nothing 
for you 
but endless poetry  
easy ppl      
slow morning 
strong coffee      
dynamic emoji    
time to read
dancing dog
uncracked screen     
a million years                          
deep sense of peace      
& somebody 
who loves you 
for free    
when she sees 
your animal grace 
your swagger     
the way you open fruit </3  
o! i am glad 
to have known you
my devastating weakness
my white rat      
my river of gold      
& my old     
                   heart   xxx

Sophie Robinson is a poet. She lives between London and Norwich, where she teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her new book Rabbit is forthcoming from Boiler House Press in November 2018.

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