No. 197 - From our poetry archives - "Bobby Wiley" - Tom Davidson.

If you asked Tom Davidson how and when he met "Bobby Wiley," he'd might tell you that he was interviewing people in Grand Central Station one afternoon in late 2017. And although the man who serves as the inspiration for the persona poem (as Davidson describes them) below, wasn't named Bobby Wiley, his essence couldn't hold or more fitting moniker. There's a line in Davidson's poem about a robin, "jerking on the branches," which always catches my attention. I've never heard or read a description of a robin moving in quite this way. Nor have I read a poem quite like "Bobby Wiley," which appears within Issue No. 3 - Winter 2017-18.

February 15th, 2020

Bobby Wiley

Tom Davidson

The baseball junkie next door stinks like grease.

Looks like he’s about to croak. He ain’t clean.


Been spick and span for six years.

Back then I said goodbye to hocking junk

& bombing liquor. Goodbye

to stealing azaleas and axles, to stockpiling turpentine,

to stewing in the gutter, to holy beaters,

and the street demon peddlers.

I said goodbye to bad shit happening.

That’s when I was transferred to this building,

took one of the only single units left.

From my window I can see robins

jerking around on the branches.

I’d probably kill myself if I was a robin.

Turning up leaves all day to find

nothing. Free as a bird they say, but that’s not

any kind of freedom I want to partake in.

Freedom is a CLEAN mind, a CLEAN body.

And it takes mental focus.

It takes all you’ve got.

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