Robbi Nester


Robbi at Cadence May 2015-2 (1)Robbi at Cadence May 2015-2






Evocation of the Ancestors

“of course [the classic work of art] is wonderfully beautiful, only when it is a thing irritating, annoying, stimulating, then all quality of beauty is denied to it.” Gertrude Stein, “Composition as Explanation”


A doubtful source insists:

in 1913, Stravinsky

made music out of his toothache.

Nijinksky  turned it into dance

that shocked the Paris monde.

The dance unleashed a riot.


The subject and the substance

of the piece seemed so outrageous

at the time, the music strident,

the dance grotesque, mechanical.


How ill-mannered

to remind this cultivated audience

their ancestors too

once prayed to savage gods

of tree or sky

engaged in human sacrifice

hunted the hoofed beast,

eating the raw and bloody

heart hot from its chest.


And on the battlefields

of World War I, the rites

would soon resume.

Our ancestors are us

or, more correctly,

we are them.


To be immediately embraced

new art must shield us

from this truth


and history distract us

from the past.





The World is a Sound


From the sinuous caverns of trombones

and from the bulbous innards of  the bass,

from the lithe length of the flute and the

apologetic slant of the harp, treading

on everyone’s toes, the orchestra

plays the world. Who could doubt

that the ocean first flowed

from the French horn’s golden bell

as from the golden spigots of a tub,

or the sun, rudely cracking the shell

of primordial blackness as blank as slate,


as it has done every day since,

from the cymbal’s first blow?

No doubt at all that this

is the sound of the first day:

the conductor scraping his baton

on the podium, percussionists

drumming their fingers on the pages,

whispering, impatient for the day to begin.





Settubandha Sarvangasana —Bridge Pose

 From Balance, poems following a sequence of yoga poses by B.K.S. Iyengar


On this cold floor, hoisting

my hips, I am standing

in the canyon, waiting

for the full moon to rise.

And now, the sky, so

empty in the daylight,

swells full of secrets,

like a darkened hall

before the concert starts.

Till a thin sliver of light,

golden, almost a sound,

skims the rock, and the moon,

with a clash of cymbals,

breaks free of the canyon walls.













Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook of yoga poems, Balance (White Violet, 2012), a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), a forthcoming collection of poems, Other-Wise, to be published by Tebot Bach Press, and has edited an anthology of poems from American public radio and television, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014).

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