Robert Milby

Four Poems – Robert Milby

Robert Milby

Robert Milby, of Florida, NY has been reading his poetry in the Hudson Valley and beyond since March, 1995. He hosts three Hudson Valley poetry series: Florida Library Poetry Café in Florida, NY, Noble Coffee Roasters in Campbell Hall, NY and Mudd Poets Poetry series at Mudd Puddle Café, New Paltz, NY.

He has been published widely in several dozen magazines and 12 anthologies. He and Carl Welden are the poetry and Theremin duo, Theremin Ghosts! haunting the Hudson Valley each October since 2003. Robert wrote the column Poets Comitatus: Dead Poets of the Hudson Valley, for Heyday Magazine. He is also co-founder and a board member of the innovative Northeast Poetry Center’s College of Poetry workshop series at Seligmann Estate in Sugar Loaf, NY. Robert’s first book of poetry is Ophelia’s Offspring (Foothills Publishing, 2007) His 2nd book, Victorian House: Ghosts and Gothic Poems—publication pending. He is the author of several chapbooks and cds.

Robert was recently named Orange County’s (NY) Poet Laureate for 2017-19.


Baudelaire’s Beneficiary

I was born in Aries and died in Virgo, just like Baudelaire.
I am not forty-six, nor do I have Syphilis, but I died in Virgo three times:
None were black.
All were white.
None were green.
All were right, at that time,
the poet sought incendiary muses,
confused angels
with impediments as mortal women:
helpmates became hazards—
as above a rampant bed, buzzards sat in silent observation of the merriment below,
of the contents of my chateau:
shredded bridal gowns, blackened marriage licenses; apron strings
and hidden rings—cold kindling, piled in a nest of grey dust and cobwebs.

The verses ran from a blood jet!
The lines were rung in sad domiciles as wandering spring ghosts rattled windowpanes.
The verses prevented self-destruction.
The verses were like green-haired non-sequiturs—Baudelaire made do,
but he had heartbeats that were heard in brothels.

I was borne in Aries and died in Virgo,
stealing antique coins from a common fountain,
eventually losing them,
like Baudelaire changing apartments to hide from creditors.

I recently discovered my Parisian DNA.
Unceasing—I discovered that I am Baudelaire’s beneficiary—
Without lament for resignation to a spiritual family tree…
I was born in Aries and died in Virgo,
Yet, I never intended my sick flowers to pass for poetry.


Coffee in Carpathia

Or, stranded in the Borgo Pass…

Haunted forests; mountains on the edge of Time’s skein;
ocean shores; rains lashing ghosts to cliffs; in hovels dressed in Autumnal secrets;
fitted by moss and lichen scholars.  Anywhere whether I can carry it; find it brewed;
for sale by Nosferatu—yes!  Even coffee in Carpathia.
But, stranded in the Borgo Pass, without the Black electrostatic discharge?
I’d rather walk without torchlight and hope that Hunter’s Moon is a lunatic!
Lost in the Transylvanian Alps, snow blinding all but my mission to the hermitage of ghosts, with coffee in a heated urn;
yearning for odd man’s courage.  Not spirits!  Nay, far too many follow our train.  Goblins?  Grey entities; wraithes!  The same contingency robbed us of viands;
actions in vain, for I contain and control the rations of coffee!  With my fellow vampire hunters, we have our scrolls and tools of the trade: Silver, stakes—well-done; Occult species of Coffee; Holy Water, a crucifix, and my antique King James!  With insomnia thus derived;
with a vibration akin to tectonic suicide, no fangs could pierce my neck; no blade from the Madame’s deck;
no wraith dare take a step; caffeinated eyes in the back of my head!
The Count himself had better climb from the box; Vlad had better grind tiny rocks of coffee
and brew it before we arrive—I take no prisoners with my team by my side—
veneration of paranoia before and after Sunrise—immortality in a black drop!
Who fears blood-quaffing Undead when Time is accelerated by the cup?


Dinner in Aleppo…

You worry about two wealthy liars, as they fight over the American Standard Throne,
while children are killed in Syria.  You speak in terms of love; honor; mercy and intellect;
as children go hungry in Syria.  Their homes are ruined; families destroyed and you speak of political liars as though they are leaders.   You speak of Election night parties;
with endless food and drink, as UN convoys are stopped, bombed, or ransacked in Syria.

Crimes against humanity in Syria, and you bemoan choice, rhetoric;
slander and meretricious wordplay, broadcast live between two business partners;
old colleagues at a temple to Avarice.   The duped constituents were intellectually
gelded years ago.  The Patriot Act was never retired!  Inquisitors wander freely
amidst the masses: Watching and taking notes.

Camera posted Main Street remains inspired by the fool’s errand to electronics
and social engineering on a derailed set of tracks.
Marks of the Beast and your choices are non-existent.
You speak of campaign stress— of him; of her, without considering air campaigns
in Aleppo—and a child’s anguish over life and death.

I am a veteran in the war for the American mind.  I vote for Life.
I send my campaign contributions to Doctors Without Borders, Unicef, and Oxfam.
Children eating dinner and drinking clean water in Aleppo will be my election night party!


Swinburne at Oxford

(Baliol, 1856-1860)

He was also matriculated in Darkness.
They heard the screaming that Autumn evening.
The damp night told more than impending Winter.

The Drunken son of Proserpine was at his witching hour recitation!
Some sat up late by the fire, reading Milton or Shakespeare;
Meditating on the One Hundred Years’ War, or which of Henry’s wives were prettiest…

The odd one; his verses were musical; laureate of the libido;
Wild, red locks disappearing into a new fog,
Rising from the night-wet meadow.

Some heard the rumours of his game; disgracing the family name with harlots from London;
Opium intrigue in empty flats; a skull wrapped in an old, grey cape.
Naked in the courtyard! Sliding down a banister in the grand hall!

Yet, there was no doubt as to the genus of his genius;
Son of the great Northern Sea, long before Rossetti pinned the paper to his worsted lapel,
For Swinburne in a swoon, to find his way home…

About The Author