Online Exclusive

Four Poems
My Robot

My robot comes to me in the night afraid of death. I tell him he is a young robot he will not die for a long time. I pick off the magnets that stick to his chin, oil him, tickle music out of his chest with a tin spoon as he laughs in even intervals of two seconds. Each night I hear him up watching Spanish soaps, he never sleeps, volume turned low out of kindness. 

My robot lives only a year. The humidity rusts him apart. In death, he is tiny. I place him in a shoebox and bury him in the backyard beneath his favorite orange tree. I spear the TV antenna into the earth over his grave. A ripe orange wobbles and falls. Its fast Spanish breaks on a kiss. 

REM Desynchronization with Hypnopompic Hallucinations

The feedback works this way—
UFOs, X-files already intravenous
of the oft-seen scaries, 

you are, one night, in your dreamspace
in your yellow spacesuit: 
its umbilical drift: breaks

and you tumble—slowmo—away
and, static of brain-glitch, 
(melatonins unhinge) 

wake to huge weight, paralyzed
in same void (contra belief, in space
don’t freeze or boil but

suffocate, slowly—“air leaving
the lungs due to enormous pressure …”) 
twisting your pupils thru

half-opaque visor to see 
bed, table, and lamp, floating 
there with your darkwalls 

star-punctured in a conched nebula. 
Then comes the solar wind’s
sea-eerie song, then light spins 

blinding droplets off ice-slender rings …
Next day seize a pamphlet
on abductions—and it’s minted your 

slim creed. Clutched by the need 
to explain it, quickly, as Others, 
as in Fuseli, his Nightmare

where the monsters seem
like second-thoughts: the small 
incubus stares at us perched

on his blonde-victim splayed
dramatically back—her back
arched to breast-mounds, 

left hand deliquescing— 
fingertips to the floor—a bit
pouty holds his green hand

up to wart spackled chin— 
is she for real? While marehead
gapes from shadows, hopeful 

(if a bit slow) white eyes 
and nostrils lambent only 
from the girl’s luminous skin

and gown—light glossing 
as if of same importance
the objects roundspread— 

redcurtains, mirror 
and phial in orbit of her 
permed starlight, her curls and 

flimsy gown that clings 
sticky its luminous twines
to her legs, condensing 

from clouds of proto-
galactic gas and dust to this 
spine-bending pleasure. 

This is the moment she expands far
with black horizonless space
until in Zippo’d click of fusion 

her extinction is born 
as light shudders and jams 
inside. If it were only 

a black-eyed pale-fetused 
space creature, or demon 
of Jupiter’s red-funneled eye, 

only a quasar or quaalude, 
and not her own brilliant 
strangeness, its crushing weight

astrolabed, brain-wild in math— 
If she were only incubus, not 
immaculate, filled she would not feel

this ecstasy—nor scribble later 
in the longfiles of names hers for
not me really, for truly separate

that accrete from each country: 
alien, mara, Mottaka, dukak 
our faithful one, lover: our death. 

There is a pause in June 

There is a pause in June. 

The landscape brightens further than May, 

the air fills with the distant traffic,      and that is all. 

The weeds continue, 
stand tall in patches
                                                           scattered throughout
                                                           the bricks. 

The bricks continue, 
solid, massed for catching light,                      holding    just so much

                                                giving off warmth in a hum 
                         well into darkness. Evening. 


There is no apotheosis, no surfacing. This moment: where the weeds

grow so tall    and the bricks    grow so bright: 
                                                                                 where the eye, 

cannot tell which
—weeds or bricks—to draw its pattern from
                                                                                              is lost

in the months that came before, and no         click, no trumpeting

for this is the pause 

            these are the days before accepting 
            that this is all— 

these long days spent still anticipating some spectacle, 
                                                           down in the sun. 

Trap Poem (Villanelle and Echo) 

Each one spins a lovely cage: 
the go-go dancer, in high strobe-sweat, 
flings her shirt through bars—we smile and age. 

Have you seen bars descend around the stage, 
joined as hands of rippling bills exalt
arms flexed to wings, atop the cage, 

that fall—dark veins onto the beaten face? 
Or sung from history’s endless list of bets
how best odds rattled down just old age? 

As the penguin staring at the painted surge
strains to see, to feel the wet, 
and does not turn his head as down his cage

from a door in mountain-sky emerge
caretakers with silver, writhing nets: 
but stares at paint that has no age— 

so if our bodies opened this moment as we gape 
at sun and breachless moon, and vault
of sky, our first and last and lovely cage, 
we would not notice, just smile and age.

As the sea eagle perching in outdoor cage

does not look up when lightning bursts 
and drops come down through the veined sky-nets
to touch its folded wings with a sweet damage— 

Adam Scheffler grew up in Berkeley, received his MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa, and is currently a graduate student in English at Harvard.