New Poem: Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson is the author of the prodigious Sweeney in Effable: Five Books About Enjoying the View. This poem is from his new poetry manuscript, Nocturne in ‘White’ or ‘Yellow’.


by Dave Robinson


A pair of reddish things unearthed beside

green slabs of moss. Their wide threshold of rock

has shifted so light spills in a room of frayed

root hairs. Two wet slender backs that don’t move

across the heat of hands and fingertips.

My kids’ shrieks race, rebound and echo between

the tree trunks: “Look! Look! Salamanders! Two

of them up here!”

Such a strange color, unlike

turned leaves or dropped petals. Reminds me more

of the electric blush on a stovetop’s coil

dimming to black as heat rises and fails.


Nail-bed moons orbit creatures (I don’t yet know

are also known as ‘newts’) with distended eyes,

like mud-filled dimples that peer both up and out.

Whether through stream currents or beneath decayed

logs, how do their eyes work well enough to hunt

snails, breed, spot false thaws? They lie calm, stilled

in hands astonished into gentleness—

thin flushed skin brushing bright, poison-laced skin.


How do these things sleep away winter while damp

all day and night?

It’ll take me weeks to find

that salamanders are newts and these were “red

efts” hatched, at first, larval with visible gills—

and mired efts still turn into aquatic adults!


Three lives to live, while I’m learning in my one

I’ll fail to ruminate long enough on sleep

or hibernation to parse my kids’ wide-eyed

queries about what’s to come.

Instead, with no thought,

I shake a maple to draw a curtain of pink

leaves down through sun and wind into the swift stream . . .

enough to elicit a chorus of elfin gasps.

5 Responses to New Poem: Dave Robinson

  1. David Daniel says:

    Some sweet poetics here, crisp images, fresh knowledge, all in perfect service to the meanings of wonder. Thanks Dave.

  2. Steve O'Connor says:

    I enjoy poetry based on close observations of nature and the personal reflections engendered. And what are the chances that you and Dave D. would have consecutive pieces that both employ the word “elfin”?

  3. david stoff says:

    I feel as if i were there and the qualities of the forest surround me. Nature peers in and the kids look back in wide wonder…