Liz Robbins


Liz Robbins’ second full collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith. Her chapbook, Girls Turned Like Dials, won the 2012 YellowJacket Press Prize and was published in May, 2012. Her poems are in recent or forthcoming issues of Cimarron Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, New York Quarterly, and Notre Dame Review. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.


the end of heat means smoke, ghost, fall, pregnancy—
i tell you, heat the true human religion—undoing ice,
frying meat—we blood-made, of heat ambrosia, cops
packing protection, not yet ghosts cropped from future
films, heat the parole officer's checklist, fire lit under
a glass pipe's bowl—oh hot sauce on hash, on greens,
on eggs, oh cat of the evening who yowls, fecund and
cabbagy—oh hot-air balloon adrift and rainbowed, oh
bucket, oh list, oh blown-clear dream—the mouth's
cinnamon gum, the tongue burned for black coffee,
green tea, steak fries, altogether hungry, the love-
bugs conjoined in a windshield's hot blades, what
vibrating heat, hammers falling on strings, a minuet,
hammers falling on knees, a caveat—or all heat illicit
may we have mercy—kid with her wrist strung in
carlighter burns, red-eye machine with paternity-
news, desperate-head eyes in despair's plastic bag—
from each light a heat, whispering reproach or relief

'heat' is a series of associations and refinements of those associations. I was hoping for a poem that illustrates various kinds of heat and whose structure shows heat's chaos. Heat as loss of control.