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Robert Rottet: Selected Poems
read by MM McLaughlin
(2000)

album credits/history

obtaining the album

the poems



Selected Poems

from:

The Altars of Change
Stop Me
Epiphanies OVER naPaLM

 

 

 

 

The Altars of Change

© Research Press/Robert Rottet, 1994

for Mark

 

"All I wanted was to say honestly to
people: ĎHave a look at yourselves
and see how bad and dreary your lives
are!í The important thing is that people
should realize that, for when they do,
they will most certainly create another
and better life for themselves."

--Anton Chekov

 

 

The Altars of Change

 

The light is so eerie in this place
my eyes are bloodshot by the time I get out
Today I donít work on the line, I work in the
warehouse
This old lady, Millie, keeps losing her count
then she struggles to regain her dignity, is there any
left?
She used to be something..., someone...,
the head cook at the grade school
Itís a Marxist nightmare in here
Time goes so slow
I made this hair spray, Iím so proud
My Love, I donít want you to ever have to do this
I donít want our children to ever have to do this
The people here tell me why theyíre stuck here
Jason says his ex-girlfriend made him lose his job,
house, car...
everything
Everybodyís got something to blame
I just blame myself
One generation offered on the altar of change
"Whatís your name, who sent you to this line?"
Uh..., I forgot her name, but sheís wearing a red
smock
Their world is so small, they think its so big
The bell rings
Millie walks out, trips, falls face down,
bruising her forehead
Sheís worried that she broke her glasses
Another generation sacrificed

 

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Whatís It Like Being A Girl

 

Whatís it like being a girl
when all the boys are teasing you
how does it feel inside
does it make you want to cry
or maybe just scream

Whatís it like being a teenage girl
when teenage boys have
put their eyes all over you
does it make you feel like dirt
or maybe you just cry

          ARE YOU A PET
          PERHAPS A POSSESSION
          1/2 OR WHOLE
          MAYBE A LESSER PERSON

          Is it written in stone
                      is anyone certain
                                 an age old lie

                      a tradition

Whatís it like being a woman
with all the different scars
from being a girl
is it any different now
(except that you canít cry)
           Please tell me
                       if you can
           Iíll try to understand
       what its like being a girl

 

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Dealing With Death (on the Time Continuum)

 

I donít live here anymore
I died back there with you
The past has become my present
I have ceased to exist in this present reality

I donít live here anymore
The past becomes my now
This cruel reality holds me
But Iím just a corpse

When you left me on this time-line
the future ceased to be for me

This linear existence
that I canít seem to exist in
has become a big dilemma for a lot of us
We are lonely, anxious, hungry, need a needle...
donít want to be
be
here
without you
Iíd rather be back there so I can be with you

WE ARE MANKIND
HAVE MERCY ON US
WE ARE MANKIND
HAVE PITY WHEN YOU SEE US
TRY TO UNDERSTAND

Try to understand
I donít want to be here
without her



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Red #1

 

I want to sit by the red-headed girl

Sheís the only one in the class

Will she know when I sit by her

And if she can tell

Will she say anything

Does the teacher know

Can the whole class tell

Courage

What if I think Iím in a dream

And reach out and touch her hair

 

Sheís so beautiful

Iím so lonely

I want to sit by the red...

 

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Red #2

 

red
i know you belong to someone
you hair ...,
you are so beautiful
say something funny
i canít stop staring
the hair
i hung up her coat and she told me i was nice
i donít want to let her see me cry
so gentle
this one
her soul
why do i love this one
she belongs to someone else
i forgot i was ugly
her voice is lovely
she belongs to him
just standing next to her
that memory will be enough to break me
these things take so long to get over
iím too ugly for her
she belongs to someone else
he is better for her
please say something funny
i canít let her see me cr...
red

 

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At the Video Store

 

Thereís a girl at the video store
And she stands at the check-out desk
When I walk in the door
she looks up and says, "Hello"
Then she looks back down
at what she was doing before

I walk through the aisles of tapes
if other people are there
and when they leave
I make my way forward

Last night I found out her name

Is it going too far now?
Am I going to wish that
she didnít open her mouth?

Its a little midwestern town
Weíre both so lonely
I hope this doesnít turn out wrong
I wonder if Iíll ever fall in
Ďyou know whatí again

"What time is this due back?"

 

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Silly Dreams

 

I met a woman on a park bench

she was feeding pigeons and squirrels

balloons were tied to her wrist

"Thereís too many dreams in my head"

she said, "Would you kindly take one for me?"

So I replied, "Thereís too many swans in my lake,

would you care to fly south for me?"

 

I was in this pool with my inflatable whale,
when some manís inflatable shark bit my whale
and I started fighting with him about it
(He shouldía had control of his shark,
donít you think?)

 

So Iím lying in bed

with the covers over my head

and I ask my supervisor,

"Can you see me?"

"No," he responds,

"Youíre not there."

"Oh no," I said.

 

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How A Man Will Change

 

Today I was thinking of the bigger picture
My life and the lives passed before
What is man?
Lower than the angels?
Higher than the animals?

To a woman he vows his life
And what does she receive?
Moments of his youthful spring?
hours in his autumn?

In his spring he feels desires
And his soul aspires to truth
Then his autumn finds him working
And he stops to count his dreams

O how a man will change
And wisdom not so soon
Speak to me father
speak to me

 

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A Song for Sinners

 

A mother, the son
walking together
alone
dead dried worms
sidewalk
              after the STORM
              A man, sinner
              ADULTERY
              pants down
              caught
                            loss of dignity
                                                                   job
               in this place
                             The letter A
                              the letter A
A stands for                                   APPLE
J         for                                 Jack
              Whatís Daddy gonna do now?
               asks the son
               no SUN
               in sight
                           clouds for days

you
me
weíre guilty too
we just didnít get caught
thatís all
The people, the stares
friends?
              CONTAGION
starting all over
all over again
again
Mercy mercy                      MERCY
Oh no! not the letter, please
no
donít send me away

 

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Unspoken Things

 

Heís very quiet
Iím speaking very loud
Heís very quiet
I am speaking very loud

There are those who canít hear me
You canít hear me
Thereís too much noise

What about her, God
Canít you make her hear me?

Unspoken things
Unspoken things

I can read you like a book
I can sing you like a song
I can preach you like a
southern gospel sermon,
baby
I can prophecy

He prophesied
and nobody listened

I canít reach you

 

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Questions for Me

 

Why is my world so absent of color?
Why do I see only gray?
Do I like the pain?
Did my joy die with my youth?
It shouldnít be that way

Will I ever write a happy song again?
Have I said all I needed to say?
Is there any more paint on this palate?
Paint me a smile
Talk to me
Speak to me
Laugh for awhile

Purity
I swear there was a time when I was innocent
But now my dreams are all tarnished with lust

Please
Donít look at me that way
Pray for me

 

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Is It Time Yet?

 

Is it something personal?
something I said? did?

Who is the King of Glory?
can we see him?
pray, fast, work, wait...
or crown him with many crowns
Bring forth the royal diadem
and leave it on the chair
its not fair

Oedipus, Oedipus, let me come in
"Not by the hair of..."
hair
chair
stair
its not fair

Have it your way
fate
God

Timeís Eunuch
one of the expendable masses
why you treat me so bad?

And if this is how you plan
to take care of me
then Iíd like to get some of that
cold cold shoulder

Is it time yet?

 

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Were You Here?

 

Were you there
           he died once
are you here
           for all people
was I there
           he died
I am here
           he lives
Iíve been missing
           they deserted him
LOYALTY
           ran away
are you here
           they came back
I am here
Yesterday was for today
Yesterday became the now
Everyday and yet not any day
All at once by one for all
Somewhere on the time and space continuum
Somewhere..., somewhere
were you there
Was I there
            no
Iíve been a failure
            get on the knees
tears
            (Selah)
186,000 miles per second
            were you there?
mysterious vicarious penal atonement
            ARE YOU HERE?
the speed of light
the speed of sound
something about the sound
silence


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Stop Me

© Research Press/Robert Rottet, 1995

 

Studies in the abuse of the English Language,

with some serious poems too.

 

 

Much of this is Mattís Fault; he started it,

so blame it on him

--licentia vatum, furor poeticus

 

 

 

The TornadoThe TornadoThe TornadoThe Tor
          nadoThe Tornado The tornado writhed in
        anguish and anger and no matter wh
         at she did it wouldnít go away so
            she tried Pepto-Bismal but st
   ill he was there ice cream
 sounds good for you kno
w these summer days
the low fronts and
heat you are lic
king my toes
        oh that is
        gross
 sur
prised
to see a
          shoe-shine st
             ill around these p
             arts of the play this w
       hole town is a stage coach
petti-coat juncture no I donít th
ink this is a tornado an hour glass of
water is fine $10 by 5:00 tomorrow or t
he tornado begins again. TheTornadoTheTo
rnadoThe TornadoThe TornadoThe TornadoThe

 

 

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The Lobster
(the ĎBruceí here is Bruce Main)

 

Deer Bruce,
            Some lobster sez he wants two take off
his read armor and run around down their at
the bottom of the see, butt; heís afrayed you
mite sea him an he says the last lobster that
did it won a ewe humans eight hymn write up
butt likes eye tells him, sea, eye nose you
aint no type a person to eight up a pour ol
lobster cause you no a mahn rips what he
sews; specially won who would stoop sow lo,
write? Sow then eye thinks four a second and
asks the lobster, "Weight, wonít it bee cold
four ewe down their? Wonít ewe frees your
little read self ifín you lie down their four
Moor than sicks minutes? "Maybe" he replied,
"Butt Iíve been Hyden inn hear all my life; I
ainít sew Jung know moe either, an once ewe
start to due something itís hard too take it
Bach, or at lease thatís what my ant told me".

 

 

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Thom
2-4-93, Upland; about Thom Mazak

 

Thom is talking
in his sleep again
there were not enough
moments in his day
for his mind to give
forth all he had to say
Now he lies upon his back
and words come forth to
me on the top bunk
Maybe someday his
dreams will come forth
and return everything he
has entrusted to
them; every secret
he has shared with
them in the night
But right now
I just wish heíd shut up.

 

 

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Night of the Living Dead
(Jan or Feb í95)

 

With all these corpses in my house

you may ask why I remain

and Iím somewhat ashamed to tell you

 

I guess we didnít see it coming

--it found us just the same

Itís like the darkness thatís inside of you

that no one else sees

but itís still there

 

We are them, they are us

we are all one in the same;

zombies who stalk the night

in search of life

What we find we devour

what we touch we corrupt

and it becomes as we are

prey to itís desire

 

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It Looks Back

 

It has been said that when you look into the
Darkness it sometimes looks back at you

And I can tell you that it doesnít matter if
you were only taking a quick glance or if you
meant to look or not; for the Darkness knows no
partiality

At that point you must hold on; it may appear
as though the Night was always within you,
you might wonder if you ever knew the Light
at all
You could be bitten or devoured, slapped or
punched, with the wind knocked out of you or
left for dead, but one thing is certain; you
will survive

The Abyss, and the evil therein, may seem
triumphant, but remember, itís powers are
limited over those who believe in the Light

The Evil preys on fears and fuels all doubts;
it chains the necks of the innocent so they
cannot turn and look when they hear Hope calling

Sins are gathered by the handfuls and smeared
in the faces of these would-be slaves
In short, Oppression has itís fill of
destruction and yearns for more

But the Light is no proprietor of injustice,
and though the night be long with dense gloom,
Sunís beams and rays will pronounce truth that
dispells the Darkness and returns warmth to the
battered soul

(Thank you Doug; you help me see the Light when I canít, 3-31-95.)



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Reverb

 

Hey Matt Iíd love to just dive into a big tank
of reverb and drown for days singing all
them melonbroccoli songs that make you so
saded I know there was a time when I didnít
like reverb at all that was my pure and raw
phase but now I like it to sound like Iím in
that gym in South Dakota singing all alone
and thinking of those women I left behind
wondering if they kept the pictures I drew
them of if they use the backs of them for
phone messeges but Iím not really thinking
that so I donít know which psychic hot-line
youíve been calling but thereís the real fakes
and then thereís the fake ones and besides
everytime we play Monopoly you always
want to be the little dog which leaves me
with the race car going, oh, maybe 60 beats
per minute (if even that fast) an right now I
donít think Iíd get tireded of that at all unless
I was on I-57 in the VW with my lead foot do
you why I stopped you no sir why did
you stop me donít know ociffer how fast was
I going whatís the hurry no hurry mean to tell
me you were speeding thru my town without
a reason well Iím aí gonna give you a warning
son but next time go easy on the reverb.

 

 

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Save Me Soon
(Feb or Mar of í95)

 

You canít answer their questions directly
and my head rests on my hand
as I ponder
how will it arrive on their platter
this time                this time
Salomae wants something like she saw
in the designer book
Judas keeps his ear to the ground
I lift up my hands for a cure
I know it takes time
and I know Iím not
Jesus
save me soon               save me soon
I get nervous
I tell lies
I donít react too fast
Iím up, Iím down, all over the place
But I know thereís a heart in there
somewhere
the healing is coming and I will be
redeemed
there is hope
and I will not be numb
peace be with you
and also with you
salvation comes by the name (no other)
Jesus

 

 

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Tabitha

 

Tabitha asked me

(in that soft mellow voice of hers),

"Would you like to come to the park

with us? Weíre going swinging";

she completed her invitation

with a warm smile.

I answered "No thank you",

because, as usual,

I was all wrapped up

in pursuing some other

who turned out to be no good for me.

 

 

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Hope
Spring Ď95

 

I will find you
I know youíre there
because Iíve seen you before
I mustíve let go
Itís not the first time itís happened
but I pray itís the last

Come and take me
lift me off the earth
keep me on the earth
sustain your presence,
now and forevermore

When you see me smiling
you will know Iíve found her
she gives me joy
she drives my dreams
she is the power of life

If only I could give her to youÖ
but I canít
not if you wonít take her

Listen, I know weíre all fake and jaded;
we know too much,
feel too little,
scars from the past, etc.
I know
I know

But, if you spend a day with her
walk in her park
romp on her playground
drink from her fountain
Then, I am sure
that you
would speak
her name

 

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Accountability

 

Thatís a pretty smile, my dear

When your mouth turns up from ear to ear

Your eyes shine like the morning star

O did you know how sweet you are?

 

Thatís such a lovely voice, dear child

So soft and quiet, gentle; mild

It sounds like music in my ears

It calms my soul; dispels my fears

 

And if I donít stop writing stuff like this

McLaughlin and Davidson are gonna

kick my butt

 

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There Is A Rhythm
July í85, for an assignment at Parkland Collage;
a Tanka (A type of Haiku; 5-7-5-7-7).

 

There is a rhythm
I see it all around me
but it is more feeling
buildings are incongruous
tree leaves rustle in the breeze

Nature is singing
futile is my endeavor
to translate her song
but peaceful moments
sacred they are meant to be

Joy to be a part
fear of growing old in heart
an oxoymoryon
howl O wind with solemness
I hear creation groaning

Just a few more days
then weíll know as we are known
and understand why
I must be a good workman
I must find myself approved

There is an order
See the beauty of the sky?
Feel the gentle rain?
Look at all creation sing
now go look in the mirror

 

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Write

 

You know youíd better write somethiní girl
of you gonna die
        Wonít you?
Write you a song or poem
                  abstract or regular
free verse, closed verse, unleaded, diesel
whatever
You just gotta write
                           Donít you?

What if we took your pen away
what would you say?
What if we took that paper from you
what would you do?

Emulate your creator baby
go on
shine
oh, hereís your pen back

 

 

The One Whoís Gone
For Jenafer, 4-19-94

 

The earth has opened up and swallowed her whole
The monster has appeared from out of the sea
The sky is shattered the clouds fell down
Sheís gone and youíre alone

Whoís gonna stop and listen to you cry
Time is moneyí
The pace wonít stop
Weíve all got our precious little
                           petty little things
                     to do
              sick

Step off this unmerry
go
wrong

Donít you understand
Could you display some sympathy?
(everyone is so invincible)

Bricks fall down and they donít feel good
Weíve all got these stupid little
                              selfish little
                         dreams

undone

what about the one whoís gone?

 

 

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Incident at Medjugorje
(July 31,í93)

 

Where do we go from here?
We know what weíve seen
Weíve been up on a mountain
and now we descend

There are some who donít believe us
and others forget too soon
But weíll always have each other
wonít we?
Promise you wonít forget

Donít forget the things we heard
Things we saw with childrenís eyes
Time will make us cold in heart
thatís the thing I fear

I still canít believe it was us you came to see
I know Iím just an ordinary girl
Sometimes I think that my task is too hard
But then I find courage when I remember
your eyes

I remember all the things
that you taught me
and I know that you have
not left me alone

 

 

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Lay It Down
Jan. 10, Ď93/Upland, IN

 

Sometimes I think about Jesus
the way they beat him so bad
he was bleeding all over his body
He could barely walk
and they made him carry his cross
until he couldnít carry his cross anymore

Nails through the hands
a spike through the feet
a crown of thorns on his head
His mother cries while he hangs there
--was this some kind of mistake?

He didnít do anything wrong
Why must we fear what we donít understand
He did so much good
He gave so much love
For this a man is made to die?

He gave all that life
yet you took his from him
you took it away

you took it away

 

"I am the good shepherd; the good
shepherd lays down his life for the
sheepÖNo one has taken it away from
me, but I lay it down on my own
initiative. I have authority to lay it
down, and I have authority to take it up
again"
(The Gospel of St. John 10:11, 18).


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Epiphanies
OVER
naPaLM

© Research Press/Robert Rottet, 1995

 

". . . with the kind help of his professor
Dr. Rick Hill
and the Advanced Writing Seminar
Class"

 


Around the Fire

 

Novemberís chilly breath fell from midnight blue
pressed down on our backs
eight of us
around the fire
our bodies warmed by flames

We found communion there
eyes and souls meeting in the orange-glow
we embraced silence
touched for a moment
somewhere in the popping wood and flickerlight

Tanya began to sing an old tune
the celtic melody haunted our bones
we drank in her soft soprano timbre
watched as notes mingled with the dark and enticed by flames

I closed my eyes and pretended she was singing just for me
(Mike did too)

June and Carol seemed to need to talk about something
they excused themselves and left for a walk around the lake

Then Aaron told a story
memorizing us with his deep bass voice
the slow droning wrapped us in a blanket of contented drowsiness

To this day, none of us remembers what the story was about

Tim proposed that we sing a hymn and we all agreed
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem was the only one that we all knew
so, in the middle of November, we sang it

The fire died down and we grew silent again
June and Carol returned and joined the quiet
as the last waves of heat licked our faces
forced our tears
connected our inner minds
with the myth of what is created and stolen

We stood, touched and were warmed
around the fire

 

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One

 

When I was about five years old I had a strange
incident. My brother, some neighborhood boys and
I were roaming about outdoors doing things that
little boys do; climbing trees, playing with little cars
in the dirt, burying toy soldiers up to their heads etc.,
when suddenly we began wrestling. I canít
remember how it happened, but me and my brother
paired up for a romp and captured everyoneís
attention. As it happened I pinned my brother down.
One of the boys shouted "Beat him up!" The others
cheered in agreement. I looked my brother straight
in the eye, he looked back and said "Bobby no!" I
began hitting him in the face. I didnít know why I
was doing it. He could have hit me back but he
didnít. Finally the nausea made me stop and I ran
away.

 

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7 yrs. old

 

And then one day
for no reason at all
he turned on his brother
COLD HEART
his older brother
JUDAS KISS
but the older one didnít hit back
and they always thought I was the good one

You canít say "For no reason at all"
there must have been some reason
MONSTER HERE INSIDE OF ME
well, yeah its just that the younger one
wanted to impress everybody
I wish that day had never come

You know how malicious little kids can be
but the younger one felt bad about it didnít he I
think so it was long ago...
HAVE I CHANGED AT ALL?

And when you think about things like that
you wonder if things would have been different
if you hadnít done what you did
but you canít go back
FORGIVE MYSELF

 

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Two

 

Just before the fall semester, I went home to find a
scrap book that was compiled by my uncle Johnny.
I found a lot of information in that book; some of it
very hard for me to process. My Grandfather was a
marine general, I knew that much, but I didnít know
what he did specifically. I found out that he was
responsible for napalm tactics.

 

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Three Stars

 

Three stars on your shoulder
pictures in my room
the planes and the aircraft carriers
your piercing eyes
the half smile
the medals and uniforms
and those three silver stars

As a 10-year-old I held the hat
tried on the boots
and dreamed
the legacy, the honor
--the same strength in me?

They tell me "He was a great man"
but today, grandfather
today --the horror
you killed so many people
the pieces in the scrap-book say
napalm

[nayí pahm]:
military substance
armed bomb
burning what ever it touches
and burns with heat
intense heat
WW2, Korean Conflict

Your son never told me

What should I say to Hong Rok:
"My grandfather killed yours"
and to Seolly Ahn:
"Sorry about the genocide"

Grandfather
I just want to hear you say
"I didnít want to do it"
For how can I forget this day
--and your stars bombing me
burning me

 

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Three

 

A friend of mine, Matt Malyon, left early this
year to teach in Korea. he returned in October
with quite a story: He had gone to a hotel lounge
one night with some friends. One of his friends
was a Korean-American woman who, incidently,
doesnít know the Korean language. She was
approached by a Korean man, she tried to tell
him "Iím american, I donít speak Korean."
Obviously the man felt slighted-- he broke a
bottle over Mattís head.

 

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Love Will Not...

 

She said good-bye
and embraced me fiercely
like she was trying
to pry out the soul
I had already given her

Interstate road signs
flight departure information
her soft broken English
sharp brown eyes
rolling through my mind

Sheís gone
and this time
this time she understands
the carnations I left at her door
and this time she cries

Mike asks, "Does it hurt?"
and I say, "Yes, a little"
but I smile and turn
so he wonít see
inside my eyes

And today
today this stiff-necked heart
holds on like it didnít learn the first time
--love will not so easily
be lent again so soon

 

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Three More Hours

 

Iím

     going

                   to

                           give

                                        you

three

                 more

                                  hours

to

                  stop

                                  kissing

                                                   me

like

     youíre

                 trying

                           to

                                suck

                                        my soul

                                                      out

                                                              of

                                                                    my

                                                                              mouth.

And then Iím going to kiss you back.

 

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An American Student Attacked In Pusan, Korea
(A Haiku for Matt)

 

A bar in the late evening
Submerged in half-light
A cast of semi-vampires

Kaluah drowns in disco
A girl holds your hand
A man gives a drunken frown

He breaks a bottle for you
He comes from behind
Blue eyed blood stains on your shirt

 

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When From This Collision...

 

When from this collision I wake

The cause of which then to recall

Will not I find and rightly shake

All remembrances of this tale

If should your name to mine be sewn

Iíll disavow I knew your name

That your true virtue be made known

And not a speck would soil the same

As wreckage dumps consume with fires

Leaving at best but lonely ash

I ask you now, sweet child, retire

These thoughts of me within the past

          Leave not your heart on smoldering heap

          To your good man give hold and keep

 

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Four

 

I have lived in many places. I have done and seen many things.
All kinds of music and literature have influenced me. Recently
Iíve been thinking about my role as a writer; am I just
exploiting situations and people or am I a creator of beauty? Itís
hard to turn off my creative voice sometimes, it makes me feel
like Iím taking everything and everyone and turning them into a
story -- I donít want that.

 

 

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I Am

 

I.

I am the forgotten song emerging in you
I communed with your soul when your grandmother sang
My verses are in your veins
my rhythm courses through your heart

 

Open your mouth and let me out
I will fly back to the place of your birth
I will gather visions of school yards
and adolescent games
I will cross the ocean to the home of your ancestors
I will summon their language within your body

 

You will hear the echoes of revolution and war
You will feel the passion of love and release
You will know the peace of joy and bravery

 

Its all here
inside of me
I am the song

 

II.

 

I am blues
I am jazz
I am rock and roll

 

I am Muddy Waters singing "I beís troubled" on the front porch of
a cabin on Stovall Plantation
I tell you "I never beís sasafied"
and you say the sorrow sounds sweeter
than sweet potato pie

 

I am John Coltrane with my tenor sax on a good night in the
Harlem Beat Kitchen
Miles is playing the sad notes
Bird is playing the pretty ones
and I am burning a hole in this ceiling
Art and Monk are sitting there with their mouths wide open saying
"Boy what got into you?"
and I say "No, what got out of me?"
because I got the heroine out of my veins

 

I am loud amplifiers, headbands, costumes, platform shoes and yes
I can play this guitar
behind my back
and when Iíve strangled every sound out of this Stratocaster
that you couldnít imagine
and she is destroyed because her message was too wonderful to
hear
and burned like a witch
then you say
"He was our voice and our savior"

 

 

III.

 

I am bald like the eagle
and I glide high above
with succinct movements
exuding regality in all that I am

 

I screech and my voice
is swallowed in this canyon
where I believe myself to be
king

 

You admire me
but you smile a smug smile
knowing that one day
the sky will become a mirror

 

 

IV.

 

I am fat and spoiled
like the squirrel who plunders the moldy bread and bird seed
that my mother has left for the blue jays

 

In the thrill of my theft
I wander into the street
to receive rebuke from an angry Monte Carlo
panic stricken
I turn both to the left and to the right
forgetting my origin and name

 

 

V.

 

I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am every man and every woman
(no, this is not Walt Whitman)
and I am the LORDís creation
I am the forgotten song that is emerging in you

 

I am the inner-city and the country
the soy beans and the section-8-government housing

 

I am the earth, wind, sky and stars
I am the eagle
I am the squirrel
blues, jazz, rock and roll
rich, poor, wise and otherwise
I am american
I am the world

I am

 

 

VI.

 

I AM the I AM
from the beginning
(as you call it)
and to the end

 

I am not something you can figure out
with your finite mind

 

I am very near you
and will never be far

 

Surrender to me
love me
I am the LORD

 

 

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Frankenstein and the Poem-Maker

 

I am ill from all I have stolen and plundered
From making pain and tragedy seem good
Iíve rolled our solar system into a ball
And pinned it to a mirror for our wonder

My soul is sick and now has ceased from breathing
Like boys who feast on too much sap and syrup
Thriving off of all your painful hours
Iíve over-dosed and now I need reviving

Iíve locked up all the biggest birds in cages
A sin for which no pardon will be found
Unless I steal away and free these creatures
And let them all fly south in joyful rages

If only I could kill what Iíve created
A monster-god would I not be --ill fated

 

 

Epiphany: "Itís soul, itís Ďwhatnessí leaps to us from the
vestment of its appearance." --James Joyce

 

 

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album credits/history


Robert Rottet Ė Selected Poems

all poetry (apart from Rottetís literary allusions): Robert Rottet

© 1994, 1995 - Robert Rottet / Research Press

from the chapbooks:  The ALTARS of CHANGE, Stop Me, and Epiphanies OVER naPaLM

read by:  MM McLaughlin

recorded: 23 March 2000, by Matt Bell: Northlake Studios Ė Otley, IA
(515) 627-5510

cover and inner photographs : © 2000 MM McLaughlin

all proceeds from this album will go to the fund to promote Robert Rottetís personal and artistic legacies

www.robertrottet.com

 

Liner Notes:

I sit here in front of my keyboard, the monitor slightly to my left, and find myself not knowing what to write.  Directly in front of me, on the otherwise blank wall, held in place with clear tape, there is a quote on a white piece of paperóďMost people are other people.  Their thoughts are someone elseís opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.  Oscar Wilde.Ē  Iíve posted it here to remind me what Iím up against.  To remind me how NOT to live.  /  It is high praise: Robert Rottet was the antithesis of this quote.  For all of his calm demeanor, humble spirit and introspection, he was a man of intense passion.  He was unique.  If I were challenged to come up with a mixture of his personality, I might venture: Robert Rottet, Jesus Christ, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Thomas Merton, Job, and Icarus.  This surely is not all-encompassing, but it says much about the many ways in which I believe Robert was pulled.  /  There is no doubt in my mind: Robert was called to be an artist.  Yet I question whether I ever understood Robertís passion in all its glory, conflict, or pressure.  In retrospect, I know I did not.  It is something I mourn.  The last time we were together, I remember us sipping wine and listening to Bachís cello suites performed by Rostropovich.  Robert and I were sitting four feet apart, not saying anything.  After some time, Robert said, ďYou can tell he feels so much.Ē  The moment, for me, indicates how attuned he was to emotion.  It indicates how great a passion lay beneath his quiet exterior.  Was it a passion only expressible in art?  There are so many questions.  But, beyond all conjecture there is this: his passion is given to us full-force in his music, and here in his poetry.  These are gifts.  /  It is a popular view that the speaker of the poem is not necessarily the poet himself.  This being true, the poet can still be known, in part, by the various voices, emotions and words that his poems use.  I believe Robert was a very personal poet, and I believe we can hear him even in his most enigmatic poems.  This should be comforting, challenging, and, inherently, bring us to a greater understanding of him as a person and poet.  /  I do not believe I ever heard Robert read any of these poems.  I wish I had.  I wish it were his voice reading them and not mine.  I hope there are many more interpretations of his poetry, and I believe he would find each interpretation valid and interesting.  I believe more voices, rising to a chorus in the end, would evoke a greater semblance of who Robert Rottet was than any single voice could ever hope to do.  This is simply one tribute to a friend I will eternally miss.  /

MM McLaughlin - West Des Moines, IA Ė July 2000


©  2000 Robert Rottet / MM McLaughlin / Research Records

 

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