Poems by Robin Gow


Cabinet of Curiosities: Human Skull


Human skull: three teeth: two eyes to crawl into:

two eyes to crawl into: elephant fetus: four legs:

a crumple of unknowing: sliced nautilus shell: brown stripes:

backwards in two directions: a crumpling of knowing: two eyes to crawl into:

conjoined twins: two arms: exhibit un-human-making:

two eyes to crawl into: a crumple of unknowing: dried seahorse:

eye sockets empty: body drinking only air: body drinking only air:

exhibit un-human making: glass globe: continents:

a smoother surface to ache on: two eyes to crawl into: conjoined twins:

stolen skeleton: body as wonder: ritual mask:

two obsidian horns: putting on a way out: a crumple of unknowing:

body drinking only air: murder’s glasses: tinted rose:

perspective eating the windows: backwards in two directions: a smoother surface to ache on:

putting on a way out: putting on a way out: body as wonder:


Straight Jacket

 Dad takes me For another kind of boy For someone with A key in my mouth I lied—not a boy He takes me for the Wrong kind of matter We call it Dark matter Because we’re scared Of what it means To invert But the straight jacket is white Clean and safe I don’t have a key In my mouth Maybe I was supposed to But I lost it One of those afternoons Where you’re bound To lose something Dropped my head Off the edge This is a skull Each planet emerged From a binding A promise that gravity Made to skin I wear the straight jacket And I escape from it As a show For him Gravity wants Nothing to do with The inside of me Gravity as a verb Gravitate I gravitate towards Art that celebrates Self-destruction The key was on A planet The key was never A key it slipped I writhe Audience Gentlemen Ladies Not-Gentlemen or Not-Ladies These are not my hands These are not my knees I am not skin Or bone But nevertheless I am the same Wound clean As a pair of lips A self-embrace To the point of terror


Rabbit Escape

I count layers of Nothing. This: where the animals go when they need to entertain. Forest of ink wrapped in foil. Chocolates submerged. A hungry island. Call me rabbit rabbit rabbit after how I come when I am called. After my desire to please a wand after my rest taken under the brim of hats. Someone is reaching into a hollow where the dirt forgets its purposes other than to bury. All things are planted. All animals wipe their faces. All illusions involve a living creature being introduced to fear then relief then terror. I am the kind of softness that never admits its own texture. Static plays in the background until I mistake it for breaking ocean. A rabbit in the waves learning To tell the color of sharks apart from the color of water. Dear God is water clear? In my experience nothing can be see-through unless there are gloves involved. I have only ever been touched through a layer of fabric. Only known my name by the awe of those fingers. What would you do to escape? I say anything but I mean all I know is here


Robin Gow is a trans and queer poet and Young Adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle. Their first Young Adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions, is forthcoming with FSG Books for Young Readers March 2022.



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