Doren Robbins

An excerpt from the sequence “Ash Head” from the author’s book Recordation. The entire sequence can be found here.


…one thing sinks in deep there’s a hole scratched out in front of someone tied up in ashes. Go…compile a list speculations whatever it is someone’s trying to make up for whatever the lack…and who is there to count on to make up for any of that? And if no one then live on ashes…find someone else with ashes…get rescued in a bath of ashes…for the Beef Meister’s sake––don’t suck your own ashes. Some are careful. There’s another hell of mismatches for the careful. Some are into the role of the rescuer…the shocking power of going from ashes to anything else…shocking gratitude for that person shocking trust for being accepted. Even as an Ash Head. The shocking power the position the one that makes the acceptance that makes it go….

The Rescuers always believe they take away more pain than they inflict. Every ash addict believes it. As long as they can they believe it. Not a rationalization. Not a putdown. You know the mystical saying: “Ashes are the residents of complete combustion.” But I don’t reduce ashes to ashes. I don’t go to mysticism…things are mystical enough…a fern grows out of a rock…a rock is an oracle to the attentive…no one’s divine…a vein from the heart and another from her lungs just in from the heel just in from the arch connect on an artery branch. I never knew from bad choices. Always after the fact realism for my likes. I looked aside suspicions circumstances signs signals…I did and I didn’t recognize them…I did and I didn’t want to recognize what I saw more or less than necessary to increase desire the yearning and the other one. Putkoff my partner at work said he didn’t like my choices in women. What were my choices to him? He didn’t hear much from me after that…careless choices overwhelmed interferences…it’s the tantalization the tenderness you insist on…some are the renewal you never

Plate 24. Preferred Bio Volupté Blatant Biomorph Trim

anticipated you needed. You find out. Throw a lucky man into the sea…he’ll come back with a fish in his mouth…


Originally from Los Angeles, Doren Robbins is a poet and mixed media artist from Santa Cruz, California. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, 5 AM, Hotel Amerika, The Indiana Review, Nimrod, Sulphur, and The Iowa Review. Past collections of his poetry, Driving Face Down and My Piece of the Puzzle were awarded the Blue Lynx Poetry Award 2001 and the 2008 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award, respectively. His recent book Twin Extra: A Poem In Three Parts (Wild Ocean Press 2015) was nominated for the National Jewish Book Council Award in Poetry. Since 1991, he has taught literature, composition, and creative writing at several colleges, including Foothill College (2001-current).