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John Timothy Robinson

The Tennesseans*

They say three southern poets made the form;

Ms. Dorris, Simonton and Braden.

A rigored wit in a challenge warned

of angles; pitch which must in jest be made

from at first a rhythm,

of so many shortened frets.

This brusk conundrum

herald's up a halted thought.

There is no social vision as such; well,

though not as we would understand the talk.

Dorsimbra: from old music preened,

a newer song was made in Tennessee.


An Image of Dreamwork

"Only the dreamer interprets the meaning of the dream."
-C.G. Jung

In June stands the solemn door of summer

with long, threadlike shadows extending in evening light.

A hard-shell breaks free of the fattest spider's web.

No one sees this happen. Agate disappears in flight. Enough

resolved in that escape, of instinct, of dream;

that arcane language of signs, unknown, unborn.

Will you know if something presents itself, born

in humid sweat, a heat, a time that's called our summer?

I doubt that what you think is true, like dreams

infected with an ignorant poison, they cannot see in light.

A big book and crayons isn't enough.

I have always wanted knowledge beyond that tattered web.

We know it's more than just lines of a web.

Somehow questions churn, linger, emerge in birth

with something new understood, never seeming to be enough.

Somehow trees look different in the morning breeze of summer.

Shapes draw, fade in changing sunlight.

Humid afternoons, you fall asleep on the porch and dream.

Jung called his study of this mystery dreamwork.

The material, distorted, compressed, strange—intricate as webs.

He believed a reason exists. In darkness, a light.

All images within, raw, malformed, unborn—

there is a logic pure as rain in summer.

The deep image, described, evoked, within them: enough.

A dream is a literary idea. How much is enough

of talking cures and self-reflexive, connotative dreams?

Waiting with the patience of a saint in summer,

tangles loosen of thought, diving again and again from webs.

Some things will never be resolved in words, born

of thought from stubborn conflicts which stand like monuments in light.

March extends a promise of growth and morning light,

warmth in thankful carols, laughter enough

to get us through, to hope again in spring's rebirth.

You should realize there is no reason for a dream.

They always snare a kind of wisdom in a web

which leads us back forever to the sacred door of summer.

Though summer seems to linger long and ream its light,

sticky webs entangle thought, in cycle, back and forth; enough.

Dreams hold attention; frustrate, endure, emerge in birth.



To make

an analogy

of ideas

is inevitable error

because thoughts

are more


than anything visible.

No symbol

could characterize

the nature of their being,


how they so

mysteriously come to be.



Local History

One year in the spring,

after classes in Appalachian poetry and fiction,

I started work on family history.

My great uncle would tell me about his life and work;

work stories, names, dates and places.

I drove backroads to find names on headstones,

places people have already forgotten

or never known.

Those graveyards and cemeteries sounded like another language;

Siloam, Bruce Chapel, Zion, Mountain Valley, Pisque,

Loggerhead, Hambrick, Pine Grove above Cornstalk Lake.

Grey once said he had twin sisters die when they were infants.

They were buried at Wyoma,

no marker for the grave.

I would always talk to him after I mowed,

just to stop and visit and especially on Sundays.

I took endless notes, interviews, compared information,

sifted rumor,

found records in Rutland, Ohio of someone else's search.

Just a few years ago, I found an online file

of ten generations.

We are English, not Irish, as most of the elders thought;

errors in word-of-mouth that came through family.

Traced to North Sassafrass Parish in 1697

at Earlville, Cecil County, Maryland,

one Ahip Robison married Margaret Pryer.

From Maryland they moved to Pennsylvania,

then Ohio and West Virginia.

Everything earlier is still unknown.

Thomas and the textile trade from London, England

was the most promising lead.

A letter was missing in the name,

though lineage is the same.

Probate records corroborated oral history to that point

where nothing more could be known

until the internet.

Our family had no controversies,

no legendary tales, no homicide

like the man who was shot in Gillispie Chapel on Redmond Ridge.

My family were people who served,

in service and at home.

Women of rearing versed in traditions almost gone now;

quilt-making, canning, sewing and farming.

Great-grandma Cora smoked a corn-cob pipe.

No one knew the name of Liberty Hyde Bailey.

They were not well-schooled

and knew their tools only as they needed them.


* Frieda Dorris, Robert Simonton and Eve Braden, past members of The Poetry Society of Tennessee, created this new form called the "Dorsimbra."


John Timothy Robinson is a mainstream poet of the expressive image and inwardness from the Kanawha Valley in Mason County, West Virginia. His poetics was developed in the tradition of James Wright, Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Marvin Bell, Maxine Kumin, WS Merwin, Tess Gallagher and Robert Bly among many others. John's 142 works have appeared in ninety-nine journals throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and India. He is also a published printmaker with eighty-two art images and photographs appearing in journals, electronic and print in the United States, Italy and Ireland.

Recent Work;

2019: Black Lawrence Press, Indefinite Space, Red River Review, The Magnolia Review, Anthology of Contemporary Appalachian Nature Writing, Fine Lines, Willard & Maple, Poem Village: Adirondack Center for Writing, River City Poetry, Metafore of Maharishi University, Connections Magazine, Rue Scribe and The Lyric.

Critical/Craft Essays/Interviews;

"The Origin of "Wind on the Water." Fine Lines Creative Writing Journal 2017.

Excerpt from: "The Poet and Society" Ginsoko Literary Journal, Issue 19, Summer 2017.

"Interview with Suzanna Anderson on Writers and Creativity." The Magnolia Review 2017.

Glassworks "The Looking-Glass Feature: Commentary on "The Farm-house." Issue 15, 2017.

"Structuralist Stereographic Aspects of Donald Hall's "The Town of Hill" was accepted for presentation only at the 49thAnnual Conference of Northeast Modern Language Association with editorial selections facilitated through Critical Mass: New Doors in Critical Theory 2017.

"An Aesthetic for Printmaking" first appeared in Empty Mirror 2018.

The Shallows "Interview on "A Crumpled Piece of Notebook Paper." Issue 2, 2018.

"Beauty and the Nature of the Image." Far Villages: Welcome Essays for New and Beginning Poets, Black Lawrence Press 2019.

"Poetic Experience and Poetic Process" Journal of Poetics Research (Australia) online no. 9 part one and no. 10 part two 2018.

"Context and The Nature of Poetic Imagination: Wallace Stevens's "A Quiet Normal Life" was accepted for publication atPennsylvania English for early 2019.