Walls by Robert van Vliet


A locked garden but
with no walls And
carrying that grudge for
thirty years until you

have forgotten his name
and even his trespasses
But you still savor
the almond tang of

walking the schoolbus aisle
eyeing the driver’s eyes
and charging up the
sprint in your heels

which will carry you
four decades before you
realize your old fear
is your old strength

And you begin to
pity the bullies who
prepare only for victory
Who have no radar

for the lurking thug
No tingle on the
nape like a tongue
touched to a 9-volt

No harsh whisper Run
It’s a trap The
poor fools swagger right
into the rotor blades

And you are free
And they are forever
trapped by the locked
gate with no walls

by Robert van Vliet

Twitter: @_robertvanvliet

Editor’s Note: The fractured line breaks and punctuation in this poem reveal how trauma lingers even when the heart has moved on.

Polly by Robert van Vliet


I gave her permission: if she
was ready, it was okay. And
a few hours later, she slipped out

without leaving the room. Grey
reaching for blue while turning toward
green. Like Athene. As unlike

her mother as possible. Sprung
from her father alone. Those eyes
swimming, serene at last after

a lifetime of seeming always
worried. I was the last to see
them open, unseeing. I have

my mother’s eyes. So now
I know how my unseeing eyes
will seem when I at last slip out.

by Robert van Vliet

Twitter: @_robertvanvliet

Editor’s Note: The enjambment in this poem is particularly well done because it perfectly captures the sense of a person slipping away, while also illustrating the emotional uncertainty of the speaker.