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The Lyric Poem Prize

J. Stphen Rhodes

For Robin Williams: List

For Robin Williams

                                                                            The best suffer most and it shows.
                                                                                                     —William Matthews

This rainy morning the light comes uninvited,
the color of dishwater that gathered
around him again those last few weeks,
last few days.

The earth is soft underfoot, the ground pliant,
slash pines are jeweled at the end
of each needle’s tip. I think they call for song.
                    Maybe I’m deceived.

What spirit painting every millionth leaf
this new day set him spinning
his often sweaty dances and tales? What art
                    that teaches me to pray

instructed him in despair, drove a wedge
between sadness and delight? Those twin closets
need each other’s air and fed his genie’s
                    wonders, wanderings.

O God, what I know is I need his mockery
of supposed shoulds and a well-reasoned "is."
Teach me to bear my daily contradictions,
                    and those of my world—

the arm outstretched, the hand withdrawn;
the joy of Mork, the seriousness of Dr. Sean Maguire;
the yes, the no; the warming sun, the renewing,
                    confusing rain.

For Robin Williams: Text
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