Robert Lietz-


A week ending cold but bright sets up the end
and the beginning of two seasons.  Sermons
we might have heard below gilt ceilings, pillars topped
by likenesses of prophets, saints, archangels
the sculptor’s kin and friends were ringers for, however
mussed or better kempt, remembered again, to ward
off sleep or welcome sleeping, and unavoidable dreams
we’d all been warned and warned again to be aware of,
an awareness shared, like a constancy there’d seemed
no way to master, with all that we made two wheels seem,
built by, and for, affordably, requiring our behavior
and attention, until the corners ended that, and persuasions
then, reports on authentic vehicles. You know, you think,
who painted this, who made the frame, from the old wood
scavenged, when the ice house fell from light, let collapse
upon itself, when lines were strung and cottagers trucked in appliances,
recovered and mitered, joined and pinned
and matched the ways hues were, and brush-strokes were
to purposes, the ways words were to seasons, summers
the lined walls housed ice, carved from the pond or what
there was to find on the Grand River, promising, and
framing the years hand-done, the art first born among
the cousins, the first I could meet part way, to think
how the earth or tiles there seemed slipperier in August,
how cold an ungloved hand could come to be despite
the season, or a  finger chilled, dipped into the blessed water
nearing midnight, and the gaze to see if there were some
who knew your family, in pews awash with history, sharing
some parts in the old yearbooks fingered through, almost
memorized, and in those front page pics from that 1930s fire,
so it’s like this just to breathe and be aware of it, to feel
the holiday, and the shape-shifting you’re nearly certain of,
struck by these wind-invested leaves, limb-lifted hemlocks
transplanted from the ridge above that river, though
the leaves want none of it, and will not admit themselves
there’s something terribly missing, some anything a time
of year’s just part to blame for, laid here among, or
there, beneath the hemlocks dreaming them.



Taking the Lead

What’s the next thought then, taking the lead it might
from a Friday holiday, from an economy
that starts you thinking anyway, a broadening whimsy
lighting the one side, or the one at Armistice?
And these sometime clouds, the clouds and tree-cast shade
and more ambitious business lightning interrupts,
with the kids re-gathering, safe, you should not mistake
their barter, or the feel of an election year
they settle into, driving these moods the season gives
apart from closure, when casts move in, on
barrel-sized wheels, like comments on themselves, on
large machines, on the implements
and myriad deployments, as unexplained as calendars,
as candidates, already in motion, in winds
and phrases like our own, and the phrase a mind
might just as well be lost in,
when such an extravagance entails, and
being right’s
distorted into practice.

The Hook

He orders the cheeseburger and fries indifferently,
meaning to appeal, remembering
the kid who passed on smokes and wrapped himself in wool
when winds took over fields, the lakes
turned treacherous, assuming himself so much himself
he hardly could be counted a believer,
tempted by that and all the concentration thrives on, just
to discover what? — as harmless
as bbs seemed, and wintering, and as the earth around,
until they re-imagined it — so that
the commotion crashed an unmistakably long slumber, on
the dreaming turned, tuned
to cross-winds and some study, under that hook, let’s say,
and the hook’s shadow, pitched
to the ceiling’s slope and the slope of barn beam
flanking it, maybe a foot or so above
the place nobody ever saw as a chaste angle, over
that antique hanging lamp,
un-lit indoors so not to smudge, but pearly
anyway, with
daylight entering through the tall
in a front parlor.


The lamp, the angle and pitch, the textures and shadow,
he thinks. recall another room
and hand-made papers, a craftsman’s watermark, and cards
sent out to celebrate a treaty,
collected yet, in the oak wall cabinet housing the mementos,
the wheeled chest, caddying the flat-panel,
in a farther century, so there’s no mistaking this, no missing
the mark or long guns there,
on the brick above the hearth, with parts in a family’s history,
in secrets they’d understood
in a young country, unexposed maybe, maybe under-studied,
caught in the preacher’s conjuring,
a preacher’s shame or pulpit ardor. Thirty’s warm enough,
and afternoons we walk, warm enough
in our snapped vests, and near as we get, looking back, on
birthdays, on the anniversaries
shared, over these cold-riffled Copeland waters geese
are not the least bit shy
re-claiming, finding their ways among the villas,
priests, and
the physicians, the rooms extended



The window’s open to let air in, let the morning
in, on this bluff above the river, and
the window here, I slide it wide to let dreams enter,
to clear the steam from panes
the draining hot tub’s qualified. Then how should we
be pure, made new, should we
field the staggering or plain fit of accounting, when
the oracle’s intent
to play his role as funny man, who wouldn’t have told us
if he knew, or risked discrediting,
but welcoming adornments there, expecting still
another way of fitting in? See
how the leaves lie out or follow calls to dancing, how
the light this afternoon, all but exhausted
in its hurry, shows us the curbs and barrels ahead
and leaves, rising up as yard birds,
the ways some Persian might, ecstatic with his lyrics
or his data, ignoring the rush for phones,
for seeds freshened in the feeders, or only leaves
again, here in the light leaves chase,
this fabulous brulee, of an afternoon’s concocting,
since this is November, just,
and sunrise, nonetheless more southerly, with
daylight savings done, will
find us easier, now that the tub’s re-filled,
behind the windows
we’ll close a little while and re-open, to
sense how the season
shapes another day about, and
the cold
come, lingering.


Robert Lietz’s poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah.  Eight collections of poems have been published, including Running in PlaceAt Park and East DivisionThe Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service and After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems (Basal Books.)  Besides the print publications poems have appeared in several webzines.  A net search for “Robert Lietz poetry” will provide a representative selection. In addition, Lietz spends a good deal of time taking, post-processing, and printing photographs he has been making for the past several years, examining the relationship between the image-making and the poems he has made and is exploring.