Sunday Rumpus Poetry: Robinson Alone



the new place comes with a different cast of light,

some Western privacy,

& a set of cats

& so Daughter is joined by Lonesome & Pulque.

Ann doesn’t care much one way or the other about pets,

but Robinson adores the triumvirate:

their inveterate roaming,

their courtly disdain,

their seeming transported from a remote time of great romantic cachet.

Though he knows he should attempt aloofness, Robinson gets attached.

He studies, as such, their many flawed teachings:

how to act thankless as a minor god,

how to sulk like you mean it,

how to be uncontained by rooms.

Their first cat, Flowerface, fell off the roof back in Denver.

When Ann wrote to tell him, he responded with laughter, though after, he acknowledged it very unfunny.

How these cats meow: fulsome.

How they create a masterly reverberation.

How they hold themselves apart.



with the wide front porch—

which they do not own, but rent—

Ann drinks alone. During the day. For no particular reason.

Robinson tends to pretend this happens only sometimes.

Keeps giving them occasions—to entertain & be entertained.

Inviting new acquaintances over has always been his métier.

Sometimes, Robinson can keep looking forward to things that have already happened.

He can be petulant, too, sometimes. Sometimes unbiddable.

& words get caught, unforgettable, sometimes in his head:

the rhyme stitched on the britches of the Raggedy Andy

left behind the sofa the other evening by the child of a friend:

Annie, do you love me or do you not? 

You told me once, but I forgot.

The best way to deal with not getting what you want

is sometimes to knock off wanting it.



was a long time coming.

Yet, finalized, it stuns:


the manhole cover that flies

up & breaks your jaw.


Kids they never had, in-laws

he never saw, become a past


whose vastness he’s only now

recognized. He never thought


of himself as the kind of man

who would have a first wife.


But there she is—his shade,

his failure. & there she’ll be,


for the rest of his life.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and the author, most recently, of the novel in poems Robinson Alone and the essay collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs. Find out more about her at More from this author →