Rob MacDonald



In one of my poems, I promised to knit you a stupid pet;

I’m not quite sure what I meant, but I think I intended

to give you something heartless and warm that you

could fill with words.  There’s no shame in admitting

that the voice hidden under your tongue still whimpers

for table scraps.  I have my own stuffed water buffalo

that gives me bad advice—once, it even swore to me

that our threadbare love needed nothing but knitting.













Inventing the new alchemy is all about learning to turn

nothing into something.  Nothingness is omnipresence,

like complaints of Starbucks’ omnipresence.  Whenever

you complain, I anagram you into finding my fingernails

irresistible.  It’s not like life has to always make sense,

right?  When I wave my hand toward the TV, it turns on.

When I hold your hand, both our brains go static, black.













One night, in a bar, a woman came up to me and handed me her business card.  She asked me if I had ever considered a career in acting.  I was flattered and offended all at once, but I pretended to be unaffected; my audition had undoubtedly begun.  I told her that I wasn’t a smart man, but I knew what love was.  She said, “I’m married.”  I said, “I’m sorry—I’m not that kind of actor.”














The flight was overbooked, so they gave us free passes to the zoo.  We dragged our luggage down the path, past the gorillas and the giraffes.  The place smelled nothing like a plane.  We were all thinking of home, how simple it was to adjust the thermostat, to get a glass of milk from the fridge.  Without speaking, we had all agreed that we wanted no part of the skies, no matter how friendly.  It made sense at the time—walking around and around the zoo until it turned into our lives











Strep Throat


The doctor says he needs to take a culture,

as if, from my throat, some remote tribe

will be captured, their language murdered, their magic

a tragic casualty of my continued insignificant existence.  

To them, I dedicate my return to perfect health,

my imperfect new accent.













Even in death, Billy Mays

wants me to be

driving a scratch-free vehicle

down an empty freeway


or gliding both hands, both palms,

across an impossible lawn

or listening to the silence

that sings from icy bathroom tile.


Late at night, he still speaks to me,

tells me my poetry is

expiration-dated, ill-fated.

Nothing I write is fit to survive me,


so he gives me the secret

to decomposing gracefully,

teaches me to speak with my hands

or teeth or whatever remains.











How To Use Photoshop As A Tool For Introspection


Control-C.  Control-V.  Repeat.

Transpose all of your photos

and you’ll see the great party of your life.

Look at your own eyes in that moment—

so lucky, dumbstruck, troubled.

Happy birthday.  Welcome home.  Bon voyage.