Robbie Gamble: Three Poems


            A jagged bone-end juts
from a rain-scoured hillside,
drips its essence onto rich red earth,
           a rivulet winding  
                        to a stream, then a larger stream
into the Kagera river,
                        which once ran red
                                                and choked with bodies,
            surging, dumping into Lake Victoria,
northward up the White Nile
across great salt plains
                        where evaporation ascends
                                                            into jetstream clouds
            over skeletal waves of refugees
                                                rippling the landscape.

            I wake under a dark flow
            before the alarm, wander
            down into the hard contours
            of the kitchen, brew coffee.
            Two hours later, kids
            tumble in, warm and gangly
            over cereal and permission slips.
                        On the drive to school
            their chatter covers
            the radio cadence,
            another sordid news cycle.
            We arrive, they bounce
            from the car, ricochet
            off clusters of friends
                                    and are gone.

                                                What if next, all of us:
                                                parents, teachers,
                                                children, passers-by
                                                are arbitrarily herded
                                                into classrooms                                                                      

                                                hacked up

                                                then forgotten
                                                over years,
                                                until all that remains
                                                are carpet stains
                                                under twisted tents
                                                of ribcage, pelvis,
                                                                        dried cloth.

   A greasy raindrop
spatters the windshield
            as I shudder the clutch,
                                    accelerate into
                                           another uneventful day.

–> “Rwanda” first appeared in Hare’s Paw Literary Journal (September 2021)



freeze thaw freeze thaw
earth is soft and tired of
erratic cycles haunting
the sleep that evaded
you in the night images
of warring unrest hacking
through the dark how do
you contain suffering you
have never known yourself
just witnessed in passing
diffusing like snowmelt
into another daybreak
what’s the forecast who
is listening and then who
gets to define tomorrow



Ukraine: (w)ars poetica

Because frozen earth can shatter like glass.
Because a marsh laced with isotopes.
Because a cordite whiff lingers for generations.
Because small-arms stutter.
Because calculations.
Because Hunger and Power are unstable denominators.
Because Family and Famine are two keystrokes apart.
Because mother.
Because geography.
Because wheatfields withheld.
Because wealth can be tallied in electrons, but conscience can’t.
Because skeletal remains.
Because potatoes have eyes.
Because we have four-chambered hearts, and only two echo the moon.

Robbie Gamble

Riddled with Arrows 5.2: “Spotlight 2022”
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