Robert McDonald

Lives of the Saints

Something has shifted, no dog can deny this.

Think of every attempt to mark or claim a piece of the city.

We walk the same steps that Frank O’Hara walked on one thousand hungover

A map of the world can be drawn with questions and written in sidewalk chalk.

What is revealed is not so much the unknown, as the fact of complete possibility.

Later we were taught to sing in orchards, where experience begins.

But heirs to the underground no longer seem to fish the same lake of dreams.

Later I stare at that photograph of Frank, crossed arms, wicker chair, the sweet ruined
nubbins of his ears.

A yellowing document taped by the door gives a simple explanation for the absence of
the sun.

Any gathering of crows provides new sensations, vulnerabilities, half-silences, and
intensities of feeling.

What reminded you of the urgency to make love in the best of evening’s long shadows?

When you casually call something “nice” it’s a way of giving no comment at all.

All the saints do is try and make sense of music: sung in woodlots, sung in attics, sung
in the rustle of rooming house sheets.



Robert McDonald is a queer poet who lives and writes in Chicago, where he works at an independent bookstore. His work has appeared recently in Allium, Rhino, Bending Genres, and Barzakh Magazine, among others.