Individual Voices / Natural Forms

Winter, 2006

Doren Robbins

With the Little Esther Phillips of Marseilles

The singer Katrina Solonge, muse of three poems,
Little Esther Phillips of Marseilles, gave me her drawings 

of helicopter pilots dumping
murdered Greek students 

onto a remote island in the Cyclades
—night of the military take-over in Greece—

the pilots bestial and robotic
in their headphone gear. 

She gave them to me inside that room
with a seven foot door in Chania

where everything ended, a room rented
from a guy who smoked rapidly and choked out 

words like his balls were in his stomach, and stared
at Katrina's ass when he wasn't staring 

at her tits, when he wasn't looking at her hair
like he wanted to chew on it. He rented 

his little hole of a room for too much, way
too much, and he was in a place remote enough 

that he could be impassive about it.
And his eyes moved erratically, stimulating 

some dread, but it wasn't fear of him I felt.
Inside the room in Chania things were 

coming apart. I was one of the helicopter pilots,
the cord to my headphones was broken, 

but the broken cord wasn't some
broken-cock symbolism, it was the same thing 

that broke nineteen years later with Sara Karakos.
There I was, talking with Isaac Babel 

about what it's like trying to kiss your own ear.
I was looking right at Sarah K. beside the hibachi grill, 

which was too small, and some of the bars
weighed down with ground meat 

had broken and caved in on the coals.
Someone stepped from behind Isaac Babel 

and brought her tongue through her
lips down to my hand 

when she kissed it. I was a little stunned.
If I was supposed to know what I risked 

by leaving my hand under her mouth, I didn't
know it yet. There I am in the dream

splicing and trying to tightly wrap
the wires back into the cord. And I look good 

in that helicopter pilot get-up, right down
to the mute_expression 

I fit into it.