- Poetry, Reading, Writing

From the Archives: Five Poems, by Albert Mobilio

Happy birthday, Albert Mobilio! Celebrate by reading these Mobilio poems we published last year!


Moods at Noon

I was rude to the king of soap.
My childhood is no excuse or even
the source of blame.

One looses sight of enthusiasms.
My precautions kept guard over me,
while I let others smoke stylishly.

In consequence, my thoughts were trivial,
commonplace. I was a neutral person so
I decided to undergo an operation.

Voices drifted in from the waiting room
& pumps pumped something new
where it supposedly would do its best.

People, I’m told, who went to very good
colleges had their hands in it,
but still, again, I was rude to king of soap.

Every day a bit older; useless to brood
more than you have to or try
untangling motive from its synapse.

I found small bewilderments like candy
in my lunch bag. They were sticky & spoiled
my precious subjectivity.

There’s nothing worth saying to this king,
his ministers, his mopey
wife of soap.

The smear of lipstick, the grimy crown.
To serve the pleasure of this dawdler king,
I genuflect then slightly clown.



Bone-colored hats provided shelter
from the heat; each stone

bench required its own way
of walking toward it.

Small commotions among children
caused a few to call out.

Many came to see string tied &
untied & tied again; others

came because their newspapers
were tired of being read.

They watched scenes animated by
tattered drums & bouquets

gathered by girls along the path.
They came & carried themselves

as soldiers do & they studied
how to say farewell &

to listen to that word as it falls
from highest to lowest steps.

The sky was worn as if it were a coat;
the flutes from the stage

conjured aloneness; their melodies hard
to remember. They came

for that & they sat with each other
& said these are trees,

& those are the trees, too.
When sunlight flickered on wet grass

they filed out each bearing a portion
of the hero’s dying vow

into streets & venerable parlors, shards
of singing left behind.


The Passers-by Pass by

A dowsing fiasco causes a mob to gather
around the perforation. They disarm the fiddler;

& divide up the quiet parts of his instrument.
Eventuality was what they label it later on.

Let’s cozy up to the jukebox, swing changeable
amidst, forestall this house from ending

up mouthy squawking wall-to-wall.
Unruly cake-walk then first-aid kits; the hurly,

the burly, the cops in several sizes, the burden
we’re endeared to. Middling fun at best

but the trailing disappointments glint like orbits
of a planetarium’s spheres.

This clock is really a camera filming photos
of credible wilderness for the aesthetes back home.

Vibration’s my camouflage; I’m nestled swell
in a theme park log flume. Pinholes help

with seeing, but you have to poke your own.
Gentle votary manipulate the scene; count

the mercurys & plutos, our sprawled bequest
of voyage. Everyone who’s anyone

now finds the lawn, the lawn chairs, too.
Chimes ring tall as nervy, lustful gloom ensues.


Class Dismissed

How goes your midnight boost-up, mister zoom?
You don’t like me asking, do you?

Study hour is over & it’s time to test your skills.
Your luminous climes are exhausted having
been excessively lived through.
Prepare for the elation that comes from
repeating “Life is oh so awkward.”

The hour for agitated repose begins the way
the others did only this one brings
its own bad news. You can bathe, can’t you

mister my-o-my, in the coolness
your cupped hands make for your face.
It’s time to loose that sneer & start
again with nada but those riddles
inside soda-bottle caps. The hour to be at fault

has come around: the stars pose as mementos
of spiritual renewal. Description is often all
you have to work with, the modifier

modifying some famously important noun.
Ho-hum. No one’s looking, mister murky-stew,
so make what you can from that.


Initiation Rite

Look at what we’re doing to the mileage.
We get that way by giving into crave.

Imagine us cooking in the woods—the ladle,
the fire, the jagged lid of an open can.

Twilight unsettles us, sparks fly up toward
the firmament; they only strengthen

the darkness by revealing what little
there is that isn’t void.

Between my thumb & forefinger, between
this & what’s permissible: the mortal

twitch of things—surviving what first
alights as choice then later cost

Laurels for wide-awake clarity
in such face-stained water—the flag

ceremony is about to start. Birds move
in ever-tightening circles too fast

to describe, while the banner whips madly
in otherwise fallow air.

I handle figures in carpets, holy wrath;
but reliving the past

isn’t what it used to be; the souvenirs—
novels, deliriums, slide rules—are broke

from overuse. Breeze blows this way or that,
the duration of earthly pulse.

Is a surprise still surprising if I brought
the party hats? Watch me get almost free

of this hoodoo system, ready to live
where never happens to be now.


  • Albert Mobilio is the author of many books, including Bendable Siege, The Geographics, Me with Animal Towering, Touch Wood, Games & Stunts, and Same Faces. His work also appears in Bomb, Salon, and Harper's Magazine. Co-editor of Hyperallergic Weekend, he teaches at Eugene Lang College.

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