Kevin N. Roberts
Kevin Nicholas Roberts (1969-2008) was a poet, fiction writer
and professor of English Literature. He died on December 10, 2008. Kevin N.
years in the English countryside of Suffolk writing Romantic poetry and
studying the Romantic Masters beside the North Sea. His poetry has been
compared to that of Algernon Charles Swinburne, one of his major influences. Kevin was
born on the 4th of April in the United States, which, accounting for the hour of
his birth and the time zone difference, just happened to be Swinburne's birth date, April the 5th, in England. And Kevin Roberts claimed to be the reincarnation of
Was there a resemblance? In any case ...
Kevin N. Roberts had two books published in the United Kingdom:
Fatal Women, a
poetry collection, and Quest for the Beloved: Awaking Truth & Beauty through
Mystical Poetry, a book of literary criticism and philosophical discussion. At
the bottom of this page there is a link to a podcast in
which New Lyre editor David Gosselin and Adam Sedia discuss Kevin's
poetry and recite a number of his poems.
Kevin N. Roberts was the founder and first editor of the poetry journal
His work appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including
Scarlet Literary Magazine, Dreams of Decadence, Penny Dreadful, Songs of
Innocence, The Oracle, The Storyteller, Tucumcari Literary Review, The
HyperTexts, Contemporary Rhyme, The Sentimentalist and Poet's Fantasy. Kevin
is survived by his wife, Janice Roberts, who stood courageously by Kevin
through every trial. All our condolences and best wishes go out to her,
and to all Kevin's family and friends. He will always be deeply and profoundly missed.
Our time has passed on swift and careless feet,
With sighs and smiles and songs both sad and sweet.
Our perfect hours have grown and gone so fast,
And these are things we never can repeat.
Though we might plead and pray that it would last,
Our time has passed.
Like shreds of mist entangled in a tree,
Like surf and sea foam on a foaming sea,
Like all good things we know can never last,
Too soon we'll see the end of you and me.
Despite the days and realms that we amassed,
Our time has passed.
It Is Too Late
It is too late. Though we would reinspire
Our dream, rewake a dead desire,
A dismal sea divides our sighs and smiles;
Between us now so many months and miles
And tears for all things torn away by time,
For faded flowers grown pale and past their prime.
And no sweet words can make sick joys revive,
no mystic kiss keeps loves long dead alive.
What mortal hand can stay the hand of fate?
It is too late.
Based on the painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
What secrets burn behind the glass;
What spirits climb?
What sorry things and sad things pass;
What things sublime;
What fate, unfolding like a book,
For her from whom one brief glance took
All innocence and hope for all of time?
Behind her eyes, where grief is grown,
With sighs for all the sorrows flown
And joy that flies
And fades the blush upon her cheek,
Her eyes so beautiful and bleak,
Their blue the subtle blue of seas and skies.
Though knowing is a kind of curse
She can but keep,
She knows not yet which wound is worse,
Which pain more deep—
The pulse of perfect hours fled
Or endless years that lay ahead
With nothing left to do but wait and weep.
Introductory lines from Fatal Women
The darker side of our love,
A lighter shade of death.
The thing that brings me comfort:
The sweet sleeping sound of your breath.
As the evening lights repine around me
And the willow weeps against the glass,
Soft my lover sleeps in bliss beside me,
Soft the hours, pensive, pass
Amongst the cushions where you sleep,
Reclining, lost to distant dreams,
So far away you are, and deep,
And though my mouth would smile, it seems,
Mortiche, I weep.
You would not think it possible for man to tease
The outline of his darkest need, I know, and yet,
I have, and still cannot appease
My soul, his aching sin; I was beset
When we first met.
But now the silent weeks have flown,
The hours fled.
And all the dreams we dared to own
In our shared bed—
They have been said.
And here, to me, you lie so close—
All honey, spice and jessamine;
I can touch you in your dark repose
And know sweet breath upon my skin.
And still, Mortiche, you seem a sin.
So long I yearned to kiss your eyes;
In dreams their deepest depths I'd plumb
And drown beneath your pleasur'd sighs
Like lovers bathed in opium.
I fear'd the hour would never come.
But it was always this day.
And it was ever this hour.
And every soul, it seems, must Time obey,
Even you within your ghosted tower,
As every May forfeits its flower.
And now I watch you while you sleep,
Unknowing, as I dimly trace
The tears of helplessness I weep,
In outline o'er your classic face,
With tender grace.
For now, my love, our path is set.
Submit, I must, and bow to Fate,
And smile, and laugh, and thus forget,
And pray you not to wake too late;
Mortiche, I wait.
Like splendid seas and faultless as a flower
And aptly called by flushing flower’s name,
With sad sweet voice possessed of fairy power
That made me love long ere we met, the same
As had we loved some lost long fevered hour
In frenzied throes, with flesh and lips aflame.
Smooth-skinned and white, with soft pale throat perfumed
And languid limbs that cry to be caressed
And kissed and clutched and full-consumed,
Her passioned lips half-mad to be possessed:
Asleep, alone, with mermaid-dreams entombed,
She waits, frail hands laid light upon her chest.
Mad dreams drone past of maiden pleasures missed,
A flood of fears and subtle, silent sighs,
Half-parted lips, as though they’ve just been kissed,
Half-haunted eyes grown wide and wild and wise,
Reflecting shades, like ghosted clouds of mist,
But clear and calm like sultry seas and skies.
A kiss to wake forgotten fairy powers!
One hallowed touch to conjure sacred sight!
A heart that bleeds to show what shall be ours
In starry eyes so soft and warm and bright:
A swarm of savage, sad, redemptive stars
In some eternal sacrificial night.
To be, or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die; to sleep,
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d, to die, to sleep;
To sleep; perchance to dream…
From Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Adorned in gold and brilliant blue,
She wandered cheerless in the glade,
Whilst wild about her breezes blew
And yielding boughs about her swayed.
In fragile hands she clasped a flower,
Worn petals of a wasted hour;
She’d touched Love’s fragrant fertile bower
And felt its fickle blossom fade.
She prayed her sorrow soon would pass,
That pain would fade with spiteful day,
Like supple serpents in the grass
That graze the foot, then glide away.
She grieved for lies left unaddressed
And secret sins gone unconfessed
And loving words yet unprofessed
By lovers with sad words to say.
She wondered that the world could sever
Mirth from such a man as he,
But knew her love was lost forever,
That what was naught would never be.
She pined for her disparaged prince,
Whose eyes in hers had found offense,
And mourned her martyred innocence
That went the way of destiny.
Who knows what seeds are best to sow
To keep men near and heaven nigh?
But blossoms born and fed by snow
Are soon to freeze and swift to die.
She knew that all the seeds she’d sown,
That all the girlish dreams she’d known,
Had spread their wearied wings and flown
And reason was the next to fly.
In curling hair that flashed like fire
Tender dreams went down to day.
The dust of wan and wild desire--
Dry brittle bones Time bore away.
So like a dead man’s blood and breath,
So everything that perisheth,
Must blossom, bloom, then bleed to death,
And dreams soon fall to dim decay.
She danced with phantoms in the mist
Amid the frailly failing light
And sang of lover’s lips that kissed
And stung her like a serpent’s bite.
Soft eyes and eyelids swelled with tears
And brimmed with love and foamed with fears
And yearned for used up youthful years
Of easy dreams and meek delight.
She sang of sweeter, softer times
When life was new and love was young
In jangled notes and tangled rhymes
That tore the throat and smote the tongue.
Bright madness stung her burning eyes,
Like churning clouds in sightless skies,
As from her lips a stream of sighs
Sang for a life and love unsung.
And then her strange unseemly smile
Dissolved into a savage scream
That rendered her fair visage vile
And gave red eyes a rabid gleam.
The stars above her blurred and bled
And all her colours ran to red
As through the fields Ophelia fled
And stopped beside a twilit stream.
Her fierce and frantic fingers wound
And wept, for every word he said,
And tore glad grasses from the ground
And wove a garland for her head.
The blowing of her hair unbound,
Her gilded skirts that billowed ‘round,
Composed an eerie rustling sound
Like choirs of wretched restless dead.
Lithe limbs and slender shoulders shook,
As raking fingers rent the sedge;
She forged a bed beside the brook
And laughing mouthed a mindless pledge--
And all the while left unaware
That death heard every whispered prayer
And always knew he’d find her there
That night beside the water’s edge.
The sun had set beyond the hill
But left a trace of dusky light;
She noticed not the growing chill,
Acknowledged not the coming night.
She pressed the wreath against her face
And writhed in passion-scented grace
Amidst her dark enchanted place
Of scarlet, black and lily white.
And then appeared before the maiden
Visions of a savage face,
With secret sin and sorrow laden
Bereft of all its former grace;
She shrank beneath the ghosted stare
Of one who once had found her fair
Then clawed the flowers from her hair
And ripped her gown to rags of lace.
She took a last long sobbing breath,
But found she could no longer weep;
Her eager tongue had tasted death
And found it good and drank it deep.
She sought to leave all pain behind
(Her bitter burning love and blind,
That bent and broke her girlish mind)
Within the arms of gentle Sleep.
She slipped inside her watery grot
And sank to where all trouble seems
So far away and soon forgot
Like fading forms in distant dreams.
Her aching spirit swiftly fled
And on her flesh the fishes fed
And drank the warm sweet blood she bled,
Our sleeping lady of the streams.
by Michael R. Burch
for Kevin N. Roberts
Ophelia, madness suits you well,
as the ocean sounds in an empty shell,
as the moon shines brightest in a starless sky,
as suns supernova before they die ...
Alone, my Sweet Love sleeps, whil'st I pace the starry skies,
My soul, awake, aflame again, on this sacred starry night.
Not green, nor gray, but golden-blue, her softly dreaming eyes,
Her streaming tears, a soft, safe source of sacrificial light,
Her dreaming tears, a gleaming source of sacrificial light.
Asleep, 'twas where she found me, in poppied fields of dream;
We kissed, half-open lips and eyes, she kept me in her sight.
But, Ah! her moonlit raven's hair, its blackness! Ah! its gleam!
And at her palely pulsing throat, a soft, sad strand of white,
At pulsing brow and trembling throat, one long, strange strand of white.
Through onyx waves, one finger weaves, head bowed to kiss its strands;
Her fully rounded hips like Eve's, stroked soft with sleeping hands.
Alone, she sighs and dreams of realms that I shall never share,
And dreams in realms of perfect peace I never knew were there.
Oh! Savage Sleep, that severs souls, she does not know to care.
Oh! Savage Sleep, that severs souls, she does not know to care!
Before you were here, I knew you.
You haunted me, a persistent Spirit, even in my boyhood.
Solitary stones on lonely ponds I played,
Whose every ripple whispered your name.
And in those same still waters, I saw your face,
And I knew that too.
Those eyes, more clear and calm
Than streams or stars or even my youth.
And in the rain, especially lightning summer storms,
Your laughter trickled through the gutters
Of my father's house
And splashed and leapt in tiny puddles,
Black beneath my dim-lit room—
In shining pools of mingled tears.
I wept silently, even then, for you.
Sometimes I thought I heard your voice,
That faery song of my every life,
Sighing through the longing wind-swept nights.
You seemed to me then an impossible dream;
Like sacred music carried on a funereal breeze,
I felt you, singing madly through the night-stained trees.
And whenever I have lain, unassailed,
Beneath the full and wide-eyed Moon,
I have known you there as well.
And by Her light I have wept to know
That you shine on me
The dawn of day is drawing near—
Would that explain
Why I should wake and find you here,
My lost Allayne?
I see you wear the look of saints,
The face you feign,
To hide the hungry beast that waits
To strike, Allayne.
But parted lips betray the thirst
You can't restrain,
And kissing them would make them burst
And bleed, Allayne.
So relish now the single kiss
Real love has lain,
And when you die, remember this
In hell, Allayne:
To love you was my single sin—
Could I abstain?
Fair flesh has felled far better men
Than I, Allayne.
Your perfect mouth was made to please
And bring me pain
With brazen teeth that taunt and tease
My soul, Allayne.
That I should chasten you by the rod
The gods ordain.
What breed of fierce infernal god
Forged you, Allayne?
What sort of strange sadistic spawn,
What brand of bane,
Made you a dark delicious pawn
Of death, Allayne?
When you were born, the devil swore
He would obtain
Your body and the soul it bore
With shame, Allayne.
Your Lord's perversely pulsing heart
Was torn in twain
That he might place the blackest part
In you, Allayne.
But when he tore you from the womb
Did you complain,
Or did you like his torrid tomb
Much more, Allayne?
He filled you with each kind of curse
You could contain,
And left you with a lust far worse
Than his, Allayne.
Henceforth you were his cherished prize
You rule the world of grim demise
With glee, Allayne.
You hold his horde of fiends in thrall,
A queen you reign,
And walk in shadows where they fall,
By night, Allayne.
And though you hate me for it, yet
I still maintain,
I love you, though you would forget
I lived, Allayne.
A sweet and subtly scented sea,
Your splendid mane
Excites my soul, enticing me
To drown, Allayne.
Your shameless cryptic shoulder's curve
Is half profane;
It shifts with fire in every nerve
That burns, Allayne.
But of your charms that mesmerise
And seek to chain,
Your brilliant black voracious eyes
Are best, Allayne.
They seethe with all the eager slaves
Your love has slain;
You sent them gladly to their graves
The pressure of your piercing teeth
Would prick the vein
And draw the flood that flows beneath
The flesh, Allayne.
The fragments of their fleeting lives
Would rush and rain
To feed the fiendish life that thrives
In you, Allayne.
You flourish by the fevered lips
And life you drain;
With lusty sighs and hungry sips
You drink, Allayne.
You seem a vile, envenomed thing
And less than sane;
Your kiss so like a serpent's sting
Can kill, Allayne.
The poison in that brutal kiss
Now wracks my brain
And sends my blood to mortal bliss
In you, Allayne.
Against your scarlet silken dress
The nipples strain
And raise to meet the hard caress
You crave, Allayne.
But you could never stoop to love,
Nor would you deign
To hold a mortal man above
Your only longing is for death
And things arcane;
Your breathing is the tainted breath
Of tombs, Allayne.
Destroying me will be the cost,
And what you gain
Is freedom from the soul you lost
Long since, Allayne.
But when I'm gone will you forget,
The passions you could not permit
To grow, Allayne?
I've one last wish, but would my wishing
Be in vain?
Just once, I'd hear the hateful thing
You hide, Allayne.
So now I ask you to confess,
By love of Cain,
The joy it gives you to possess
My gift, Allayne.
I leave you something that will stay,
A fatal stain,
That you could never wash away
With blood, Allayne.
The touch of my deferring hand
You will retain,
A touch you may well understand
In time, Allayne.
Until the end of all your days
It will remain,
And then the fiend you dared to praise
Will fall, Allayne.
Angelic armies will descend
And him arraign;
They'll bring about his brutal end
On earth, Allayne.
The remnant of his writhing form
Will wax and wane
And perish in a reeking storm
Of dust, Allayne.
You'll stand alone to face the fall
Of his domain
And watch the ruin of every wall
He built, Allayne.
And then, my love, we both will see
If you disdain
The only soul that would not flee
Your touch, Allayne.
I sink into the strangest sleep,
Whilst you sustain;
As dark as death and twice as deep
I doze, Allayne.
With death die all my mortal fears
I shan't regain,
And I can wait a swarm of years
For you, Allayne.
You think you've seen the last of me,
You slavish swain,
But mine will be the face you see
In dreams, Allayne.
I swear it now, my wicked thing,
We'll meet again.
Then will you wear the devil's ring...
Or mine, Allayne?
Based on my conversations with Kevin Roberts over the years, I believe "Allayne"
was his personal favorite of his own poems. — Michael R.
You seem a sad forgotten flower
Plucked from some placid fairy-place,
Flushed and flecked with fear, your dreaming-flower's
Damp with dew and dread;
A savage bleeding bloom, your hue
A streaming eye and swollen eyelid red.
That I might stay another blessed hour
To kiss the tears from parted petal-lips,
Take further refuge in your fairy power
Another day, one last good night,
And hold a hand more bright and sweet, now lost,
Than even love is sweet and bright.
Fair phantom notes flow from thy lips
On breath made sweet with supple sighs;
Thy song, in soft and savage sips,
The gods would drink with half-closed eyes.
Your music sooth'd the souls of men
And moved the wind and stir'd the trees—
Forever now, sweet Orpheus,
It haunts the seas.
The savage sea, its surge and sway
Of clutching waves and barren deep
Sang soft thy dirge, then bore away
Thy sleepless life of lifeless sleep.
The gods who tore thee left a trace
Of former fairness, for it seems
You feign the face of one awake, the face
Of one who dreams.
The glancing blow, the blow that smote,
Harsh payment for thy single sin,
Unsexed thee by thy severed throat
And left thee loathe and least of men.
O lustful women! Whores of fate!
All envious of Eurydice,
They lured her in and locked the gates
She Held My Shadow Gently
She held my shadow gently,
Like a weakened, wither'd child—
My own morose Madonna
Sighing sadly though she smiled.
My haggard head, in darkness,
Press'd and heav'd beneath her breast,
Burrowed deep and nestled deeper,
Numb and naked in my nest.
As manic limbs and mangled mind,
All gutted yet ... beguiled,
Felt death—pain, darkened, down-turned eyes
Wept warm and wet and mild.
Through weeping-open, willing flesh—
Whilst still she sweetly smiled—
The ache slid snake-like into her,
And still she softly smiled.
The author's note written by Kevin, directly under the original hand-written
copy of the above poem, reads as follows: "After manic break a few days earlier.
Poem portrays both my wife and my angel simultaneously."
The following are poems and prose remembrances written by Kevin's friends among
the poets. The first account is by Michael R. Burch ...
I became aware of Kevin Roberts sometime around 1998, when I began to submit
poems to Penny Dreadful and Songs of Innocence, both edited by
Michael Pendragon. I had a poem, "The Song of Amergin," in the first issue of
SOI; that was the Summer 1999 issue. That publication was followed by my poem
"Prophet" in the Autumn 1999 issue of PD, in which I believe I read my first of
Kevin's poems, "How Sweet the Night." It was obvious from that first encounter
that Kevin was a remarkably talented and accomplished poet.
Kevin's lovely "Rondel," my favorite poem of his and a near-perfect poem in my
opinion, appeared in the second issue of SOI, circa 1999-2000. In fact, my poem
"It is Not the Sword" was on the adjacent page to Kevin's poem
— an interesting synchronicity. Elsewhere my poem "Uther's
Last Battle" was adjacent to Kevin's haunting "Ophelia." Looking back, it seems
like destiny that our poetic paths would keep intersecting.
We both had three poems in the third issue of SOI, and once again there were
seemingly prophetic poems on adjacent pages: my "Kindred" and Kevin's "On
Parting." We would become poetic brothers and we would unfortunately be parted
too soon. Furthermore, I bookended "On Parting" with my poem "Resurrecting
Passion," and that was something we were both attempting to do with our poetry.
So perhaps another omen or foreshadowing of sorts.
Kevin's shocking "Allayne" appeared in the Wynter 2000 issue of PD, in which my
poem "Shock" also appeared. I believe Kevin wrote "Allayne" with the English
poet Carmen Willcox in mind, and her poems also began to appear in the journals.
If I remember correctly, I was able to get in touch with Kevin through Carmen,
although it could have been through Michael Pendragon. But in any case, I did
get in contact with Kevin around this time and we began to exchange poems and
ideas about Romantic and Neo-Romantic poetry.
Kevin had two poems in the thirteenth issue of PD, and I had seven. That was in
the summer of 2000. At this time, if a poll had been taken of the better New
Romantic poets, I feel confident that Kevin would have been the consensus pick
as the best of the troupe. He was held in very high regard, and rightly so.
While I never considered myself to be a traditional Romantic poet in the mold of
Keats, Shelley, Poe and Swinburne, and thus not in direct competition with
Kevin, if I had to pick the one poet I saw as my main competition, it would have
been Kevin. He was that talented, that good. And no one was as good at his
chosen style, or even very close, to be honest.
Kevin's "Clayre" appeared in the fourth issue of SOI, along with five other
poems of his. I had four poems in that issue. That was sometime in 2001. I had
four poems in the fourteenth issue of PD, also sometime in 2001. Kevin didn't
have poems in that issue, but by then he was starting to focus on his own
literary journal ...
When Kevin founded Romantics Quarterly, I was a silent backer, offering
free consultations as an experienced editor. I also referred a number of the
better poets I knew and had published through my literary journal, The
HyperTexts, to Kevin. Those poets included, if I remember correctly, Rhina
Espaillat, Annie Finch, Richard Moore, A. E. Stallings and Harvey Stanbrough.
But let me be clear that the journal was entirely Kevin's idea, his vision, and
his creation. Kevin did put me on the journal's initial board, using my nom
de plume Kim Cherub (an anagram of Mike Burch). But Romantics Quarterly
was always and entirely Kevin's creation; I just helped out in various small
I had the first poem to appear in Romantics Quarterly, "Goddess,"
followed immediately by four more of my poems. That came as a pleasant surprise
to me, when I opened the first issue. This was the Winter 2001 Premiere issue.
Kevin published five of his poems a few pages later: "Clayre," "Carmen,"
"Hyacinth," "Ophelia" and "Allayne." Because he included those five poems in the
first issue of RQ, I suspect Kevin considered them to be among his strongest
And that is how I came to become familiar with the poetry of Kevin Roberts, to
meet and communicate with him, and to be involved in the birth of Romantics
Kevin was a mystic. Like the great English poet-artist-mystic William Blake,
Kevin claimed to be able to communicate with angels. Kevin told me that he kept
their communications in a journal, which I assume is now in the possession of
his widow Janice. It would be fascinating to know the things they told him.
Hopefully one day Kevin's journal will be published. But I do have one tale
related to Kevin's angels that I can communicate myself. In the fall of 2001, I
won the first Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest, which I imagine Kevin
judged himself, although I'm not positive about that. Unfortunately, soon
thereafter Kevin and I had a falling out over RQ. I felt the early issues had
too many typos and told Kevin that I thought more attention to detail was
needed. We also had a disagreement about RQ's CD of poetry readings, How
Sweet the Night. This was sometime around 2002. I believe my criticism
upset Kevin and after that I stopped hearing from him for around three years.
But then, after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans, where Kevin and Janice
lived, in 2005, I did hear from Kevin again. He had tried swimming through the
infested floodwaters to help other people and to secure help for himself and
Janice, and had become very ill. His angels had suggested that he get in touch
with me. I think it was good advice, and I bought Kevin a notebook and printer
so that he could write while he attempted to recuperate. Later, when Kevin
wanted to attempt to drive cross-country in his weakened state to pick up
personal belongings on the West Coast, I and Mary Rae persuaded him to take
Janice, and that seems to have been good advice. Also, I was able to give Kevin
and Janice some marketing work for the computer software company that I own and
manage, and that helped with their living expenses during a very tough time for
them. So I think Kevin's angels did give him good advice. Unfortunately, Kevin
never recovered from his Katrina experience and he died from what I understand
to have been complications on December 10, 2008.
When blackness falls so suddenly that flowers
with painted petals soften, fade and fold,
it seems the world is lost in sightless hours,
bereft of green, of lavender, of gold.
But you—you need not grieve for sun to rise
while woodlands turn to silver by your art.
Just dream, and singing waters flow with light.
No trace of dark can seep into your eyes
lit by the candle of your tender heart
where Jesus tends His flame against the night.
by Mary Rae, written as a friend to a friend in 2006
by Michael R. Burch
for Kevin N. Roberts
The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.
A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.
In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep . . .
Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.
by Michael R. Burch in 2001 after a discussion about Romanticism in the late 20th century.
for Kevin N. Roberts
I liked the first passage
of her poem—where it led
(though not nearly enough
to retract what I said.)
Now the book propped up here
flutters, scarcely half read.
It will keep.
let me read yours instead.
There's something like love
in the rhythms of night
—in the throb of streets
where the late workers drone,
in the sounds that attend
each day’s sad, squalid end—
that reminds us: till death
we are never alone.
So we write from the hearts
that will fail us anon,
words in red
though they cannot reveal
whence they came,
who they're for.
And the tap at the door
goes unanswered. We write,
for there is nothing more
than a verse,
than a song,
than this chant of the blessed:
If these words
be my sins,
let me die unconfessed!
I rescind all my vows!
Write till sleep:
it’s the leap
only Talent allows.
by Michael R. Burch, written in 2000 after a discussion about the work of another poet; Kevin seemed to like this poem and requested it more than once in later conversations
a prayer-poem for Kevin Nicholas Roberts
O, let me be the Beloved
and let the Longing be Yours;
but if You should “love” without Force,
how then shall I love—stone, unmoved?
But let me be the Beloved,
and let the Longing be Yours.
And as for the Saint, my dear friend,
tonight let his suffering end!,
and let him be your Beloved . . .
no longer be stone: Love unmoved!
But light on him now—Love, descend!
Tonight, let his suffering end.
For how can true Love be unmoved?
If he suffers for love, Love reproved,
I will never be your Beloved,
so love him instead, so behooved!
Yes, let him be your Beloved,
or let You be nothing, so proved.
Must this be our one and sole pact—
keep you hymen forever intact?
I wrote this poem a few months before Kevin’s death.
Too Gentle, Angelic
for Kevin Nicholas Roberts
Too gentle, angelic for Nature, child,
too pure of heart for Religion’s vice . . .
oh, charm us again, by sweet words beguiled,
and with passionate warmth melt men’s hearts of ice.
by Michael R. Burch; this poem was written shortly after Kevin's death; he died on December 10, 2008 and the poem was written on December 23, 2008, just before Christmas
for Kevin Nicholas Roberts
Only the long dolor of dusk delights me now,
as I await death.
The rain has ruined the unborn corn,
and the wasting breath
of autumn has cruelly, savagely shorn
each ear of its radiant health.
As the golden sun dims, so the dying land seems to relinquish its vanishing wealth.
Only a few erratic, trembling stalks still continue to stand,
and even these the winds have continually robbed of their once-plentiful,
I think of you and I sigh, forlorn, on edge
with the rapidly encroaching night.
Ten thousand stillborn lilies lie limp, mixed with roses, unable to ignite.
Whatever became of the magical kernel, golden within
at the winter solstice?
What of its promised kingdom, Amen!, meant to rise again
from this balmless poultice,
this strange bottomland where one Scarecrow commands
dark legions of ravens and mice?
And what of the Giant whose bellows demand our negligible lives, his black vice?
I find one bright grain here aglitter with rain, full of promise and purpose
Through lightning and hail and nightfalls and pale, cold sunless moons
it will strive
to rise up from its “place” on a network of lace, to the glory
of being alive.
Why does it bother, I wonder, my brother? O, am I unwise to believe?
But Jack had his beanstalk
and you had your poems
and the sun seems intent to ascend
and so I also must climb
to the end of my time,
however the story
for Kevin and Janice Roberts
In your quest for the Beloved,
my brother, did you make
a near-fatal mistake?
Did you trust in the Enchantress,
La Belle Dame, as they say,
Sans Merci? Shall I pray
more kindly hands to gather you
to warmer breasts, and hold
your Spirit there, enfold
your heart in love’s sweet blessedness?
No need! One Angel’s fond caress
was your sweet haven here.
None ever held more dear,
you harbored with your Anchoress
whenever storms drew near.
Whatever storms drew near,
however great the Flood,
she held you, kind and good,
no imperious savage Empress,
but as earthly Angels should.
In your quest for the Beloved
did the road take some strange fork
where ecstatic feys cavort
that led you to her hermitage
and her hearth, safe from that wood.
(Did La Belle Dame’s dark eyes hood?)
I am thankful for the marriage
two tender spirits shared.
When the raging waters glared
and the deadly bugles blared
like cruel Trumps of Doom, below
how strong death’s undertow!
But true spirits never sink.
Though he swam through hell’s fell stink
and a sea of putrid harms,
he swam back to your arms!
Life lived upon the brink
of death, man’s human fate,
can yet such Love create
that the hosts above, spellbound,
fall silent. So confound
the heavens with your Love
and fly, O tender Dove!,
to wherever hearts may rest
once having sweetly blessed
a heart like my dear brother’s
and be both storied lovers.
I wrote this poem on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2009.
You Were the One Who Talked to Angels
for Kevin Nicholas Roberts
You were the one who talked to Angels
while I was the one who berated God,
calling him Tyrant, Infidel, Fool,
Killer, Clown, Brute, Sod, Despot, Clod.
But you were the one who talked to Angels—
who, bathed in celestial light,
stood unarmed, except for your pen
and your journal, ecstatic, to write.
How kind their baptisms, how gentle their voices!
Considering their nature the world rejoices,
and you were their gentle, their chosen one . . .
you, my kind friend, now unkindly gone.
But you were the one who talked to Angels,
in empathy, being their kind,
a child of compassion whose tender heart
burst beneath skin’s ruptured rind.
You sought the Beloved with a questing Heart;
once found, the heav’n-quickened Spirit must fly!
You mastered Man’s strange, fatalistic Art—
to live, to love, to laugh, then die.
But living here, Angel, you found the arms
of a human Angel and, living, you knew
the glories of temporal, mortal love
where one and one eclipses two.
And now she mourns you, as we all do.
But you were the one who talked to Angels,
as William Blake did, in his day,
and, childlike, felt their eclectic grace—
sweet warmth, illuminating clay.
Two kinds of Warmth—a Wife’s, and Theirs.
Two kinds of Love—Human, Divine.
Two kinds of Grace—the Angels’, Hers.
Two Planes within one Heart combine.
And so you brought far heaven near,
and so you elevated earth
and Human Love, to where the Cloud
of Witnesses might see man’s worth.
My Christlike brother, who talked to Angels,
where do you soar today, I wonder?
Do you fly on white percussive wings,
far, far beyond earth’s abyssal thunder,
and looking back, regard the earth
and its lightnings and their bellowed hymns
as the sparks and groans of a temporal Forge,
as merely momentary things?
There, looking up, do you see the Host
of those who ascended, of those who see
all things more clearly, having slipped
thin veils of flesh, for Eternity?
And will you, in your Joy, forget
the sufferings of serfs below,
or will you remember, cry “Relent!”
to those with the power to bestow
the gifts of spirit upon the many
rather than just the Chosen Few,
who sell bottled grace for a pretty penny
and break the hearts of doves like you?
Or will you be the Advocate
of those who live—the fag; the whore;
the homeless man; the indigent;
the waif who begs at the kirk’s barred door
and dares not enter, for her “sins”
which the rich-robed mannequins deplore
as they circle her and mind the store?
Will mercy, pity, peace conspire
to hold you in their gravity
so that, still Human, you aspire
to change earth’s dark trajectory?
I wrote this poem the day after Kevin died.
On the Death
of Kevin Roberts
The winter sky reflects my frozen tears
As cold earth ushers home her fairest child
Whose silenced voice rings through the hollow years
Like stillborn poems scattered on the wind
His spirit kissed my soul with verses wild
As freeborn streams that leap through April meads
Where doomed Ophelia strangled in the reeds
As blacktoothed sorrow ate away her mind
'Til life no longer offered hope or joy
Now April fields lie barren 'neath the snow
And cruel December seals the stream in glass
Her gath'ring shadows hasten to destroy
All traces of the beauty that did pass
With songs of love and loss that seemed to flow
On wings of angels from a source Divine
Like Hamlet's maide, her poet's voice is stilled
His Orphic lute a relic pawned to Time
The liquid words to which my spirit thrilled
No longer match their meter to his heart
Trailing his soul to some celestial clime
And bathing Heaven in eternal light—
I strain to catch the echo of their flight
As they from earth and mortal ear depart
Sing out! ye verses 'til those frozen skies
Rain down thy praises like December snow
And on the frigid north wind burn his name
Go tell the world her noblest poet dies
Blow! Blast the world on wings of fire and flame
'Til ev'ry tree and brook and star shall know
A loss as fierce and ravenous as mine
by Michael Pendragon
I’ve walked in fairy realms where star streams glide,
Where silver rills reach rivers few have seen
That wind their way through verdant forest green.
Here beauty and all magics yet abide,
And here is where, in great delight, I’ve spied
Sloe-eyed wan women fallen, or pristine,
Whose kiss may be angelic or obscene,
And in my dreams each is my secret bride!
No one but him has held the key, or keys,
To open dream gates of profoundest joy,
No one but him has conjured, dared to please,
Called Helen, Circe, or the gods of Troy.
His artistry is Love, and no facade,
His poetry touched by the hand of God.
* lines written by Michael Fantina which were read at Kevin Roberts’s funeral service
for Kevin Roberts
His words dance to an inner drum
From doe-eyed Sirens in bazaars,
Sound like some magic pendulum
Set swinging by lost avatars.
Like rare aloes and galbanum,
Like red and molten silver bars,
And plates of hammered platinum,
His words like gold from savage stars!
by Michael Fantina
for Kevin Roberts
Verse beyond compare,
Warm, seductive lair,
Women wan and fair,
Who love or slay.
Sirens sing and snare,
Lure with golden hair,
Down some spiral stair,
All fears allay.
Each poem is a prayer,
Breathed in heady air,
Beauty to ensnare,
Each poem a thoroughfare
Of day dream or nightmare
Where dwell sweet Siren women of the fey.
* written by Michael Fantina upon reading Kevin Roberts' FATAL WOMEN
A Poem Written Almost Irresistibly while
Reflecting on Fatal Women by Kevin Roberts
His poetry so like the law
Of fatal flutes whose sound is grace,
Sweet magic words, no fatal flaw,
Nor any lines in each sweet face.
Women with long curling tresses,
Their fatal fingers on my arm.
Lips that rain Circe's caresses,
Their glance a breathless, fatal charm.
Seductive stare and fatal glance,
Fey lover but too quickly gone.
I dream a fatal fairy dance,
That conjures swift oblivion.
Ah, women fey and Sirens all,
With fatal eyes and fatal smiles,
Each poem a sacred madrigal,
Across a thousand fatal Niles!
Love is both true and yet a lie!
Fall fatal petals from the rose,
The heart heaves with a fatal sigh
So chilled by fatal falling snows.
We sit beside this fatal stream,
The Moon and fatal stars align;
Ah, fatal is this fatal dream,
I drink these poems like fatal wine!
by Michael Fantina
Here is a podcast
in which New Lyre editor David Gosselin and Adam Sedia discuss Kevin's poetry
and recite a number of his poems.
Click below for a piece for flute by Mary Rae, dedicated to Kevin Roberts
Artwork by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John
William Waterhouse, Edward Burne-Jones,
Lord Frederic Leighton, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Evelyn De Morgan