some of my words gathered


She liked to wander through the town,
down this alley and that lane, always
bearing towards the sea — whose beating
roar overlay everything — until she came
to the town’s edge where the water stretched
before her, pewter under the clouds, greener
in the shallows; until she stood where the water
ran up the beach, uninterrupted. She liked
to follow the sandpipers along the shoreline,
with their skittering steps, watch the mewling
gulls as they balanced their wings
to accommodate the wind currents. She
sat for hours on the sand, watching
and listening, content to squander time.

published in Waterways, September, 2014

Hospital Room

She waits for them to wheel him away;
a saline drip, pulse and blood pressure,
tubes sprout: a routine surgery,

they all say. She wears his wedding ring
on her right hand. Her thumb keeps
touching it as she watches the monitor,

the rise and fall of the heartbeat. She
wonders why it changes when it does,
wonders if his heart beats like that

when she can’t see the monitor, tries not
to be appalled that he can be reduced
to a small black screen full of numbers

and the heartbeats’ peaks and valleys
that are not consistent — they come for him
and the monitor no longer has a heartbeat.

She waits.

published in Waterways, October 2014

A Thousand and One Nights

Among the flowers of my Persian carpet
vines sprout curl twine me into fields of silk
and wool. Sliding through warp and weft,
I hear the rustle of thread grasses, and
my nostrils fill with the pungency of feral cats,
I taste the dryness of dust, and the dampness
of a blue silk river runs through my ears.
A blend and blur of color mark the horizon
spots of russet and black resolving into a hunt
undisturbed by my addition to the scene.
Arabian steeds damp dark with silken sweat,
silent as Attic shapes, prance and wheel
through date palms and trees of fiery-fruited
pomegranate. Turbaned caliphs, bows slung
across their backs, chase a leopard forever
peering over his shoulder. An arrow loosed never
hits its mark eternally suspended by woven
threads. Trees stand in an expectancy of silence
as I move within zig-zags of light and shadow.
My arms slide round the leopard’s golden
ruff and I am bound by threads of color
to be hunted forever through fields of silk and
wool, chased by frozen horses, another
player in the weaving fields of Bokkhara.

published in Lunarosity, 2004



By Design

From girlhood they learn
the intricate patterns of life
and they sit the daughters and wives
they sit through the long winter afternoons
with needles and yarn and they learn
the intricate patterns of death.

And they learn these daughters and wives
of fishermen each family’s pattern
worked in criss-crossed cable
intricate patterns passed from generation
to generation knitting a history.

And when the fishermen
struggling for survival sail out
on the harsh and inhospitable seas
they wear their thick seaworthy sweaters
each interlocking serpentine design
lovingly knitted by daughters and wives
who when the storms blow
sit and wait and watch for
their fathers their lovers their husbands
and when the boat does not return
they still wait for the sea to return
the fishermen home and when the bodies
erased by the waves tumble on shore
the girls and the women come down to the sand
to search amongst the sweaters until each
finds their one intricate pattern
lovingly knitted and knows the design
of their lives has unraveled
in the intricate pattern of Aran.

published in WORM, 2004

Blood Tree

The aborigines call it
the mari, or blood tree,
for the gaping wounds
that bleed a scarlet resin
which with age

(like blood crusting on a cut)


published in Ink & Ashes, 2005


threads of sanity cascade
through empty spaces
where thoughts no longer hear
my words not spoken

through empty spaces
where shattered dreams contain
my words not spoken
shouting through my hollow body

where shattered dreams contain
syllables of silence
shouting through my hollow body
through blue river veins

syllables of silence
reaching out for empty spaces
through blue river veins
where thoughts no longer breathe

reaching out for empty spaces
touching faraway mountain tips
where thoughts no longer breathe
black across the midday

touching faraway mountain tips
threads of sanity cascade
black across the midday
where thoughts no longer hear

published by Prism Quarterly, 2005


Remnants of a Tsunami

    Japanese, from tsu harbor + nami wave
    a great sea wave produced  by 
    submarine earth movement 
    or volcanic eruption

A town 
reduced to
shattered stone,
trees uprooted
a leg sheared at the knee
bloated bodies stacked
the top of a baby grand 
a mattress floating

and in the town square
like some bizarre sculpture
a motorcycle leans drunkenly 
on the roof of a boat resting
on the collapsed walls of a house.

The only sounds
the wind, the waves,
the gulls, a dog barking,
and a man chanting the Koran
at the grave of his sister.

published by the Platte Valley Review, 2010


Desert Jousters

Their shells, breathing skeletal shields, shine like mottled amber,
as two tortoises stare each other down;
reptilian heads bob and weave at the ends of long necks, beak-mouths open
hissing, popping and grunting.
Males, they attempt to flip each other onto rounded,
rocking backs, while perching on pin points, claws scrabbling;
high-domed armoured battle-boxes, they face off,
move towards each other, slow blood, slow heartbeats,
stumpy columned legs lifting and setting, like sumo wrestlers in the ring.

Published in Waterways, 2012


22 responses to “some of my words gathered

  1. booguloo

    19/11/2010 at 10:31 pm

    syllables of silence.. this is great and By design truly brought me to the edge of the seashore. Thanks.

    • mroby

      20/11/2010 at 9:52 am

      Thank you. I do love your comments as they in themselves are poetic.


  2. Jeanne

    27/07/2011 at 10:28 pm

    Wow…each poem to me on a journey from around the world to the inner landscape. I especially enjoyed By Design.

    • margo roby

      27/07/2011 at 11:45 pm

      Thank you so much, Jeanne. I will admit that By Design holds a special place for me, amongst my poems.


  3. vivienne Blake

    05/08/2011 at 2:32 pm

    Missing your usual words of wisdom, I wandered in here and revelled in the luxury of reading finished and polished poetry. An absolute feast. Thank you, Margo. Each poem had its own particular delights, and it would be invidious to single out a favourite.

    Blood Tree There is a tree like that in Seychelles, known as the “Sang Dragon.” (blood dragon).

  4. margo roby

    17/08/2011 at 11:46 am

    Hello! Glad you wandered in, Viv. I am so glad you enjoyed the poems and thank you for your lovely comment.

    Love the name “blood dragon” — gorgeous.

    Can you tell I am working my way back through my emails?!


  5. Basicallystan

    22/08/2012 at 10:30 pm

    I love the way you use the 2nd and 4th lines in a stanza as the 1st and 3rd lines of the next. I often use repetitions like this as a means to loop themes and rearrange word purposes. Allowing each element of the poem — line, phrase, word — mean itself is something I picked up from Gertrude Stein (though I am nowhere near as bold as she!).

    • margo roby

      23/08/2012 at 7:31 am

      Hello, Stan. Repetition is one of my favourite poetic techniques to play with. This particular form, I love, although the danger is always that the focus becomes the repetition rather than the poem. Thank you, both for the visit and the comment.

  6. Hannah Gosselin

    05/01/2013 at 1:13 pm

    Each of these are exquisite, Margo! The first I remember reading…it was an example for that amazing step by step poem prompt…I loved it then and on reading again even more!! So vivid! Each of these have such a presence.

    I enjoy this:

    “when the bodies
    erased by the waves tumble on shore
    the girls and the women come down to the sand
    to search amongst the sweaters until each
    finds their one intricate pattern
    lovingly knitted and knows the design
    of their lives has unraveled”

    SO much…wow…goosebump good.

    Warm smiles and happy poeming to you, Margo!

    • margo roby

      05/01/2013 at 1:23 pm

      Well, hello. Thank you. I tell you what gave me goosebumps. I read the poem at a poetry reading and afterwards a woman came up to me and said “All this time, I have never shown my daughter our family pattern. I shall now”. I’m tearing as I remember.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        05/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

        Wow. Margo. That is so amazing. And now I’m tearing and goosebumps, too. Thank you for sharing that with me.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        05/01/2013 at 3:08 pm

        Also, incidentally, I was here to find links to your other blogs…I didn’t but I’m glad I happened upon this page. 🙂

        • margo roby

          05/01/2013 at 3:13 pm

          No problem 🙂

          Let me know if that doesn’t work. The other I shall send an invite your way so you can see what I do when I play. You will note I haven’t played in a while, but I love having a blog where I talk to myself and putter when I need or want to. Despite only being there a few times, it’s my favourite.

          • Hannah Gosselin

            05/01/2013 at 3:16 pm

            Oh, cool, Margo and I do hope I wasn’t prying my way in?! I look forward to seeing what play looks like to you! 🙂

            • margo roby

              05/01/2013 at 3:23 pm

              No, no. I would have ignored the third if I didn’t want you to see my cave. Really. However, wordpress is not letting me send to your wordpress address [could be I am doing it wrong]. So, the question now becomes, May I have your email, or user name [?] for wordpress?

  7. Belinda Broughton

    26/07/2014 at 9:59 pm

    Lovely poems, Margo. I especially love ‘Blood Tree’

  8. georgeplace2013

    16/06/2015 at 8:23 am

    What a wonderful talent for putting words together. I like them all and enjoy your quirky perceptions, as turtles being sumo wrestlers and great insights as with the tsunami and blood tree. Impressive, Lady.

    • margo roby

      16/06/2015 at 7:26 pm

      Why, thank you! Those are some of my favourites.


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