Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts was raised in Adelaide, completed his BA at the Univ of Adelaide, MA Simon Fraser Univ. Vancouver, and Phd Griffith Univ, Queensland. He is HRA Professor Emeritus at Malaspina University College on Vancouver Island. He has published 10 books of poetry, including The Red Centre Journal, Nanoose Bay Suite, and most recently Cobalt 3 which was shortlisted for th Cdn Acorn Poetry Award in 2000. He has also published two books of short stories including Picking the Morning Colour, a novel, Tears in a Glass Eye, and had two plays professionally produced by Theatre One on Vancouver Island.

Last Night Thunder Thick As Dark

Last night thunder thick as dark
spikes lightning
‘flowers fire in the woods’
about Mt. Arrowsmith

Out of the smoke at dawn The great Mars
waterbomber repeats/like Sinekwa/the beat
blunt beaked, swoops the Bay
at first a trickle of exhaust between
the mountain four engines bumbling
louder as the huge plane levels out
for its water run.

A mile away its wing tip pontoons sway
six feet over the sea, it glides lower
as the bomb bays open in a great slash of spray
sucks up tons of water into its gut
slow & low over the Bay in a loving rush
it staggers, till its belly full, the throttles pull
wide open. The spray hisses over the wings
lift like a gut shot goose, the waterbomber
roars & thrashes at the sea’s kiss. 3. 4. 5.
6. hundred yards. The bomb doors close.

It will never lift before the breakwater
Lumbering inch by inch unwilling into the air
slow as a heron, ungainly as a crow, the plane
wings and engines flailing, the plane
seems topped in the air by invisible
nails, it soars in a slow turn over
Maude Island to return to the fire.

all this is mythology
Thunderbird whose wingbeats are thunder
and the ocean falling from its body/rain
The great bird lifted from the water
to return to the other element
red eye of its feeding
the water falling
like a benediction
onto the bloodied earth

And I wonder who flies this bird
how it feels when the plane jumps
1,000 ft after the release and the
blistered air boils & tosses the huge
Mars like ash

Today, all day, swing in and out of the Bay
like a restless lover
this waterbomber flies only for the flames
tomorrow and again, until every fire
is out.

From Friendly Street No. 9 and Tuesday Night Live

Like A Lover

like a lover
the frost makes its patterns
only in the dark

at dawn I crunch out to the shore, sea
heavy as sump oil
underfoot, the artistry of cold
fern leaves laid out like medieval
maidens white & star crossed

How is it that these fingers
fashion such filigrees in the grass
eyes of Artemis sparkling
in the soft light

I pick up a feather of ice
forged on some ice anvil
over the bleak earth
over the bones

Even as I hold it like a lover
the edges melt
I close my hand about it
feel the cold beauty
dissolve against the beating heart

I open my hand
all this imagining lost
to water without shape
like tears

From Friendly Street No. 9

Civil Rights

The Burmese lies, indigent by the stove door
stretched in the warmest spot, refuses
to move, yowls, as I shove it to put
another log in the fire, a bitter plaint
hard done by, this cat, having never caught
a single meal, except out of tines, meows,
as if anything less than temple guard
is beneath it, and it’s doing us a favour
merely by living here, and suddenly
I’m annoyed at its domestic presumption,
feline acceptance of some law that says
I provide all, cut wood, stacked and
brought in obeisance to this useless fur

so I boot the damn cat, a good one,
lift it two feet and it screams off
yowling brutality to my family, each
in turn, agonised abrogation of its right

and they form a solid phalanx of reprisal,
reproach, justice, bring the bloody cat back
stroke its hurt but purring ego, place it
right in the way again, with warnings
and I know lilies in the field have
more rights than I, in this Eden,
and the damned Burmese turns, gives me
one snotty look, stretches
to luxuriate, again, by the stove.

From Friendly Street No. 13