Robert Campbell

apologies to the cabinet the minutes

i'm tiptoeing over an undug grave.
i'm eating the last peach on the tree.
i'm barefoot. ugly-drunk. i'm burning a heap
of paisley ties their smoke a bouquet
of every color. i'm tipping my invisible
hat to you. i'm snatching
the complimentary mints
from other people's pillows. i'm not
thinking about you at all. i'm not
holding my broken head in the tub
like a ripped begonia. i'm not vomiting
the minutes into a toilet like confetti.
i'm not afraid of the minutes kept
in the cabinet locked and breathless.
i'm not afraid of its mouth swinging open.
the minutes aren't filling the room
up to my ankles knees waist. i'm not
afraid of the minutes how they rise
around me like a tide. no no look
i'm a buoy a kayak a catamaran. look
i'm a kite a purple balloon a drifting
dirigible. look i'm careening on all
the minutes all of them beautiful half
breaths gone and going. look.



we are calmly debating the meaning of you

ever measured we plumb your biology
your evolutionary purpose. coolly and kindly
do we discern whether you should
have children weigh the meaning
of marriage to you creature in what
way you comprehend it balance
your existence against other less offensive
possibilities. we are reasoned and stable
as a pew objective as the word behind
the word. these qualities are necessary in order to
debate the finer points of you. have you
considered that maybe you don't exist
that actually in the strictest terms you aren't
really here. we are smacking our gavel now
as we remind you this is not
egypt qatar nigeria that you will not
be broken with stones though you don't
seem grateful. you give no thanks
for your unruined body. remember that boy
whose head was caved in his eyes bloomed
from their sockets. no we're not threatening
you simply reminding you what usually
happens in other countries though
you aren't at all grateful. and yet we are kind
as we deconstruct you like a clock each
piece of you laid on a table to get
at the truth of you what rights you deserve
or don't deserve. you seem upset though
we don't know why. you know in dubai
a homosexual can be chemically castrated which
is impolite we think. and we are kind
as you can see arguing your meaning civilly
as we do though the children i mean
do they really need to read of your existence
the poor children. it bears repeating the children
the children the children. you take such easy
offense despite how kind we have always
been by allowing you to speak. at some
point we do assume we heard you speak.



Robert Campbell is a queer poet living and writing in rural Kentucky. He is the author of the poetry collection Infinity Closet (Tolsun Books, 2021) as well as the chapbooks Monster Colloquia (Hellbox Publications, 2020) and In the Herald of Improbable Misfortunes (Etchings Press, 2018). His poetry and criticism have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Barrow Street, and many other journals. He serves as editor of Red Tree Review.