Robert VanderMolen

Robert VanderMolen’s latest collection is Water.

Poem: ‘Roads and Trails’

Robert VanderMolen, 20 December 2018

In a sports magazine in the barbershop I found a photo of a man and woman Sitting on lawn chairs in their underwear, Smiling, like they’d cornered the market On leisure, an ad for Mexican liquor, I believe, An open door behind them, an overhang Supported by posts of beech, a clothesline Drooping out of view – I was astonished, A cabin that looked just like mine, he said, In summer...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 16 June 2016

After a Spate of Sleet and Hail

He dreamed of smoke – An electrical fire? Woke, stumbled Through the house, the smell Vanishing, a wisp rising nightward. Back in bed, restless with the light off, A bottle of Bordeaux on his nightstand, A pistol in the drawer, a loneliness He couldn’t control, though he enjoyed Control. Posture was important, shoes, An expression to satisfy women...

Poem: ‘The Road to White Cloud’

Robert VanderMolen, 23 April 2015

Tumps of fish rotting He couldn’t sell

The yellow yard of a cabin

I’d gone to a party

With friends Who slipped off Among cypress, sometime Before morning, When I was rousted To go down to his boat, And chug up the channel, Nauseous Baiting hooks with Anchovy


I once rowed Across a private lake Angling for bluegill The cedar skiff painted Maroon with white oars, An easy...

Poem: ‘A Bear’

Robert VanderMolen, 31 July 2014

As avidity circulated about the soccer game A bear lingered, nosing among the spruces, Under damp boughs, sampling scents, perching Briefly on a stump, while remaining curious, Until, on impulse, it stepped out on its hind legs, Causing the playing field to empty in a hurry, As in a monster film from the 1950s, a fog Of silence filtered in or should I say descended – Not far from the...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 16 June 2011


I don’t believe she married him Because he was in the fish business Remarked Lois, which quieted The ensemble some

From upstairs. An old Leonard Cohen tune

It was unfortunate the Attorney-General was involved, If at a distance

Lois was the sister of the AG Her husband puffy and long on anecdotes The banker at a bank that defaulted

In the spacious woodlot behind the house...

Sometime later he was hit By a train – head lowered in the cold, Somewhat deaf by the age of 50. Not so repentant as startled, As in a movie where the dying man Gazes at some bird or cloud But still wouldn’t go to church Even if he could be carried. Among those middens of doubt Escaping seemed like a robust plan. But he didn’t know precisely What she was talking about. Her...

Poem: ‘Under the Sky’

Robert VanderMolen, 20 April 2006

How it was, after the babies, One week’s vacation at the shore During late July, trying to isolate A hummock of time in which to be dazed, Beer in the mug, the slant of sunsets, Fried chicken seasoned with sand. All of us thinner, sweat-dried, more prone To anger. With a housecat prowling Through dune grass . . .

And they made a film of it. I’ve forgotten The name of the...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 1 December 2005


Inside, they were polishing the floor: Planks pried from a sunken schooner Dried out, worm holes intact – so that If you spilled your drink, some of it Could possibly drip into the cellar (which was older than the schooner, walls of river limestone mixed with brick of a trading post called Whiskey Center – during the War of 1812 partisans had hidden behind barrels of...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 7 October 2004


Meanwhile in Costa Rica the volcano smokes Toucans glide down to the banana plantation – For the moment everything is relaxed. It is snowing in Michigan, but I’m thinking Of the newspaper story in September, Two parrots building a nest on a silo In Montcalm County – Guido points out Alulu shadings above the coverts, Assuming I’m a birder. I like their beaks....

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 9 October 2003


Water muscling to shore at twilight, Muscling over her ribs, the water so warm For September. Thomas Paine said, We just couldn’t stay boys (regarding the colonists) Or something to that effect. Ladybugs gather, covering a pear, Gulls screech about the deserted lighthouse. How agreeable to discover Someone loves you, or even later, That you’ve become a fixture In...

Fishing at the Falls

Beer is cold in the water A breeze is cold behind us, A draught from shadow, where it Is cavelike, the wall eaten under, A moody huddling, where rock Has fallen from the upper lip Like crumbs (we imagine) Until rock meets rock At the rubble of river

How we’ve turned to fiction, Says Dick – all this hunger, Pitchy with wonder, came full Circle in a way . . .


Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 23 May 2002

Waiting for Someone

On the bulkhead over the bar Names of steamers that used to stop here

The river silted with new islands and old tyres

I’ve been postponing this drink for hours She says, though I hadn’t inquired


Across the alley where the train station Once held court, exposed brick, hardwood floors

Where I stood at the entrance, five years old, My hand in my mother’s,...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen, 21 June 2001

A House

A calendar under the couch Was several years old. It wasn’t My house. A note with crisp Letters, You are the loveOf my life. I drank my coffee On a window seat watching Spring snow fall like sugar-cubes


Men were mulling The career of Senator Vandenberg

Candles played across mirrors To a repeating pause In the wallpaper

A polite house Like my aunt’s we visited At Easter,...

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