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Len Roberts

Len Roberts is the author of nine books of poetry, the most recent being The Silent Singer: New and Selected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2001). He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including a Guggenheim Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, a National Endowment for the Humanities Award, and six Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Awards. His fourth book, Black Wings, was selected by Sharon Olds for the National Poetry Series. His poems have appeared in many journals, including The American Poetry Review, Poetry, Paris Review, and others; his poems have also been selected for Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize. Robers is also a translator of Hungarian poetry; BOA Editions will publish his next book of translations, Before and After the Fall: New Poems by Sandor Csoori, in 2004.


Building the Chicken Coop In Wassergass

Set off from myself, because of myself, I pounded the twelve-penny nails, squared the frame, dropped plumb lines from each post, tried to make some sense of my life, setting the windows in, caulking, trimming, drilling holes for the 12—2 wires, the [...]

On the Way to Quakertown

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide plays on the radio and seems so obvious I have to blink aside the glowing arch and Midas Muffler, the Seven-Eleven that always reminds me of my father's misthrown dice to realize this year the snow is different, its fa [...]

Building the Barn Door

It is snowing and your brother, back from a foreign war, has come to help build the new sliding barn door. Wrapped in green parkas you two first square the frame, 16 by 16, then nail the cross brace. As you hammer the cheap spruce boards you think t [...]

Following the Cat

(for Joshua) The old music calms him as he follows the cat's thin lines of whiskers, gray-and-black-striped raccoon tail, yellow hat with blue ribbon drifting down. It is the cat of his dreams who roams through deep fields of wheat and orchards of fr [...]

The Trains

(for Walt) Last night my friend called to say it's a struggle trying to keep the 30 degrees below zero out of his house, but I thought of his father in Scranton winter, on the hill with no trees, of his sister who stopped eating because the man she l [...]

Ready for Sleep

I'm trying to sleep but can't  help think of my father's dropping onto those piss-stained sheets, how he was instantly out and snoring loud enough to wake the entire house, knowing I will toss and turn,  about three cough up hardened mucus and sta [...]

Heaven’s Gate

Only Gabriella Wells or Irene  Tousignant in their white dresses and  tight curls, maybe Al Bouchard in his pressed pants and starched white shirt might get through Heaven's Gate that Sister Maria had drawn on the board, the gold bars in yellow ch [...]

Mission, Late March, 1960

On a night like this my brother and I would roam like wild dogs down Main Street and Remsen Boulevard, knocking over cardboard boxes the white-shirted managers of J. C. Penney's and Woolworth's dragged out before locking up, the drugstores the best, [...]


I'm trying to remember   the knots, figure eight, bowline, becket bend, my favorite, I'm trying to see again his brown hands in the mirror as they twined the Duke of Windsor  knot until it was done and I was off to the Pater Noster and the hereaf [...]

Learning Natural Instincts

Giraffes munched leaves from the tops of trees   on a plain in Africa and eagles wheeled about a mountain nest while my penis stiffened in that seventh-grade   class, Ann Harding's nipples, dark, beneath the white   blouse, Karen Awlen's thigh [...]