Tammy Robacker | R

R: Poems by Tammy Robacker. Number 14 in the Keystone Chapbook Series, selected by Deirdre O’Connor.

Release date: May 15, 2016 [100 copies]
21 pages
ISBN: 978-1-949333-17-6

Robacker_R_webCover image: Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, “The Reprimand” (1852). Photographed at the Brooklyn Museum by Billy Hathorn, 2011.

Tammy Robacker’s second poetry book, Villain Songs, is forthcoming with ELJ Publications in 2016. Tammy published her first collection, The Vicissitudes, in 2009 (Pearle Publications). Former Poet Laureate of Tacoma and a Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence award winner, Tammy’s poetry has appeared in The Lake, Menacing Hedge, Chiron Review, VoiceCatcher, Duende, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, WomenArts, Up the Staircase Quarterly and many more. Currently enrolled in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University, she will be graduating in 2016. Tammy lives in Oregon; visit her website here.  


My father carved his last initial   
out of wood, then painted it black  
and nailed it outside our house 
the summer my parents split.
Like he could claim it. He widened  
the driveway. Bought a station wagon   
to give added room. It was loaded   
and drove smooth. The back window   
rolled down automatic. So there I’d sit   
to mourn the perfectly good landscape  
we passed. What a contrary perspective.
Homes, shrubs, lawns all falling away  
as I faced out. On our last family trip   
they had already called it quits. Still
my father paid a diver at SeaWorld   
to go underwater and pull up a shell   
with a cultured pearl for my mother.  
It was pure pain he presented to her. 
Himself raw and flawed, admiring    
her hand as she looked away. His ache  
palpable on the ride back. In dark   
reminder, that black plaque hung over 
the whole lot. Another home sold. Sacks
of bright white gravel around the yard.   
The sound of his desperate scrape raking    
at rocks, the end of our drive, a marriage.