Frank Robinson: Ending the year with 'a bodyguard of ghosts' all around us

Photo by THOMAS HOOK (Connecticut-based nature photographer and essayist). He writes: "We had our first proper snowfall last weekend. The next day on the white snow was a single, battered oak leaf.  "This reminded me of what anthropologist Loren Eiseley wrote of the world of primitive men who might see 'portents in the fall of a leaf.' This solitary leaf  on the freshly fallen snow stamps autumn as dead and winter as ruling.''

Photo by THOMAS HOOK (Connecticut-based nature photographer and essayist). He writes:

"We had our first proper snowfall last weekend. The next day on the white snow was a single, battered oak leaf. 

"This reminded me of what anthropologist Loren Eiseley wrote of the world of primitive men who might see 'portents in the fall of a leaf.' This solitary leaf  on the freshly fallen snow stamps autumn as dead and winter as ruling.''

 

December poem, by Frank Robinson

The letters in our new mail box

somehow seem

more important now.

xxx

This crossword puzzle is a bear.

Fifty years on,

and I’m still working on the first clue.

xxx

Begin every day with a poem

and get it over with

(with thanks to W.C. Fields).

xxx

This old skin I sleep in every night –

like a suit I should have sold

years ago.

xxx

Women have no illusions,

they know the cost of everything,

including love.

xxx

It will happen very slowly,

one second every million years.

Even so, I’m glad

I won’t be around

when it happens.

xxx

Am I proud or sad,

to pass my father’s “Sell by’’ date

by ten years?

xxx

For this, I gave up

family and friends,

for a hearty handshake at the end?

xxx

When you have a job,

You succeed or fail every day.

When you don’t,

you neither succeed nor fail.

xxx

I have no time, I have no time,

I’m too busy doing nothing.

xxx

In this place, no one is alone;

everyone comes with a bodyguard of ghosts.

xxx

Growing old, dying, lousy weather –

Oh, Margaret, you deserve better.

xxx

Is she so beautiful

because she’s so young,

or because I’m so old?

xxx

A hard choice:

recognition now,

or immortality when I’m dead?

xxx

On the beach –

I’m smarter than the waves,

smarter than the sand,

a genius compared to the sky,

so I’ll enjoy it all while I can.

xxx:::

At least it celebrates spring,

the nest they built

in our Christmas wreath.

-- Frank Robinson

Mr. Robinson is a poet, former director of the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, former director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design and an art historian.