May 2009

Robert Danberg


Robert Danberg's poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun,, and other publications. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric at Syracuse University. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Sleep Charmer    

Banging rocks together under red moons,
playing the violin with a straw broom,
throwing rocks into thready branches,
howling, "cockamamie, cockamamie, cockamamie."
None of this works when she's forgotten how to sleep.
It must be a race upstairs, three stories,
five minutes in the dark, tracing circles on her back,
mutter and kvetch, half-open door.
If I concentrate hard enough, soon, a gentle snore.  
Then, I can put away my velvet hat with the crescent moon.
Now I turn the broom, and sweep the floor.



I Fell Asleep at Work Today    

I woke up suddenly; I was late.
I grabbed a yellow pad and found a pen and ran to the room with the round

When I took my place, half awake, a dream that had been sitting under my

Dissolved and streamed through me, hot and sweet like unfallen tears.
I dreamt of angels climbing stairs, Chagall angels, square footed messengers
Whose long noses and mismatched eyes I knew from mirrors other than my

Each held a bundle of shirts in its arms,
Tied how shirts are for the dry cleaners, a pile wrapped in the body of one,
The arms knotted, secure embrace of empty sleeves.  
I slipped the line all the way up the building's spine to the roof.
None complained even when I muscled my way past the door
To find each one step edgeward and toss a bundle away.
Sleeves gave up their knots; the sky was full of shirts.
They fluttered and fell along tar beaches, electric lines and window boxes.
They crossed one another on the hoods of cars,
They reached up for the breeze and left my sight.
Then each angel went back for more.

For two hours I felt no worry or despair.



Robert Danberg: Poetry
Copyright ©2009 The Cortland Review Issue 43The Cortland Review