Friday, March 17, 2017

I received this poem yesterday from my good friend and writing buddy, Liz Mcrae:

My friend is a grocer and a poet.
He is the father of three boys who are becoming men,
husband of the woman who taught me how to give birth to my babies,
owner of Buddy, a little dog who thinks he's big,
wearer of Santa hats as he celebrates Hanukkah,
quick to grin and quick to cry,
a hugger,
and quite possibly the only other person in Big Sky that knows the poem, "Otherwise", by Jane Kenyon.

He spent years discarding lettuces,
letting avocados ripen to perfection,
discounting bananas that we made into bread in our kitchen,
tasting wine from places much warmer than our snowy home,
making and taking orders
in the little quiet spaces of his store.

I suggested he hide a pad of paper and pencil underneath the register
and sneak poems in between customers
like the kids in the back with that jar of swedish fish.
The first poem he sent me-
He was on the interstate with his father. 
Like any good poem,
I, the reader, was sitting in there too. 
It was a short poem, 
but changed the way I think of Mark.
From then on it was poet first, grocer second.

My friend is a poet and a grocer.
His poetry reminds me that the ordinary is beautiful,
the understated story can fill a room,
laughter can make me cry,
that we create because it heals us,
because someday it will be otherwise.

We need more people who bring us with them
to sit on the woven back seat of a car
careening down a highway in New York.
We need more people who care which word comes first,
which word to leave out.
When to sit in a quiet spot stealing moments for poems,
and when to bust open the windows,
let the returning birds sing inside. 

I love you, poet friend!

This was my reply:

I am so touched by your poem
Of course it made me cry
But in keeping things light
Let us workshop this poem right now

I don’t think there is any quiet spaces at the Hungry Moose
I love the way you change the order of grocer and poet
I remember the poem about driving my father 
Near the Taconic Parkway but don’t remember it being the first poem I ever sent you

At some point I did write a few Hungry Moose Haiku
Similar to Williams writing on prescription pads

It’s hard to believe that now I wake up everyday
Wishing things were otherwise 

I’m confused by the ending
Not sure what you mean by the returning birds

I love you poet friend


What Exit?
by Mark Robin

What exit did we just pass? Dad asks

The Taconic, I reply driving the interstate,
heading south from Boston, from my nephew Clay’s Bar Mitzvah

Good. Stay away from my family –

you’ve done enough you, he bawls


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon


  1. Such heartfelt poems-- I love them.

  2. Mark, I am sorry to have missed you at the Mountain Moose the other day! You have been on my mind and in my prayers, as well as Jackie and the boys. Again, if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to ask!! Enjoy our early spring and the promise of beautiful wildflowers returning to the mountain sides! Hugs to you & Jackie...