to the fierce guard in the Assyrian Saloon
The delight of this book is the constant surprise. Lee Douglas’s physical and contemplative world is where the quotidian meets the sublime and does a hula dance. Howard W. Robertson creates a persona who whispers in our ear to come along on his bumpy and glorious ride. The reader is then placed in lush rooms of wordplay and acute observation, while also being allowed a sense of intimacy. The poetry accesses Lee Douglas’s perspective with a curious and compelling simultaneity, akin to reading a journal and hearing internal monologue. This is a landscape where a sensei wears a cowboy hat and scrambled eggs are symptomatic of authentic being. However this is not an entirely ethereal world; the poems also create a narrative where we meet Douglas’s children, ex-wife, and even the new city budget manager. Robertson reminds the reader that living is a beautiful and terrible mystery that is best faced with humor, endurance, and love. Robertson’s intense language makes Lee Douglas’ perceptions a pleasurable and powerful reminder.
The full text of Howard Robertson’s to the fierce guard in the Assyrian Saloon is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
the barber did just what I told him
The way to spot your car in a very big parking
lot at River Valley shopping mall an enormous
place when you’ve lost a big bright easy to
spot red ’71 VW camper in a divorce settlement
and bought a little short brown ’82 Honda Civic
four-door sedan that you can’t find even though
the lot is not very full is to begin to wander
but immediately bump into Dwight Wong your col-
league at the International Studies Center on
campus and enjoy smiling idly and ask a couple
of cheerful inane questions and refuse to be
impressed by a famous Soviet sculptor who’s
coming but be only interested in your own tri-
vial everyday concerns and push this pleasant
vacuity to the point that the car appears from
behind the big fat green Plymouth and you and
Wong laugh delighted that here you are now
director-elect of the center and already making
decisions on the hundred thousand dollar fed-
eral grant for next year and you find your car
like some kind of zen madman or holy Russian
fool or little kid or something.
Copyright © 1987 by Howard W. Robertson
Howard W. Robertson is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Eugene, Oregon. His poems have been published most recently in Nest, Literal Latté, Nimrod, Fireweed, and Ergo. Robertson has been among the winners of various poetry awards, including the Bumbershoot Award, the Intown Award, the Pacifica Award, the Pablo Neruda Award, and the Literal Latté Award. His sixth book of poems, Odes to the Ki of the Universe, has just been published by Publication Studio and is available on Amazon. This is a collection of poems, many of them long poems, that re-evaluates our moment in time in terms of the ecology of the biosphere and the entire history of the Universe. It is a spiritual book that is based on solid science as well as the author's empirical experiences as an aikidoist.