The HyperTexts

ROMANTICS QUARTERLY: A Retrospective, Chronology and History

Romantics Quarterly was a literary journal founded by the poet Kevin Nicholas Roberts ...

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. Roberts spent three 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 birthdate, April the 5th, in England. And Kevin Roberts claimed to be the reincarnation of Swinburne ...

Related Pages: Romantic Poetry Timeline, Free Verse Timeline

The first issue of Romantics Quarterly was the Winter 2001 Premiere Issue. The initial masthead was headed by Kevin N. Roberts as Editor, with Michael Pendragon, Kim Cherub and Robert Smith forming the editorial board. The cover image was provided by artist Barbara Burritt. Volume One of Romantics Quarterly was titled "Femme Fatales." The first poem was "Goddess" by Michael R. Burch, who had four other poems in the inaugural issue. Kevin Roberts had five poems: "Clayre," "Carmen," "Hyacinth," "Ophelia" and "Allayne" with two rondels toward the back on page 48. Annie Finch had four poems, A. E. Stallings two, Michael Pendragon five, Harvey Stanbrough three. Other poets included in the first issue of RQ were Carl Brennan, Carmen (Willcox), Pamela Constantine, Robert Cooperman, John Grey, Byron Howell, Mary Matney, Karen R. Porter, Sean Rooney, Leilah Wendell and Louise Webster. There were also poems by Swinburne, Keats, Byron and Poe.

Michael R. Burch, editor-in-chief of The HyperTexts, remembers: "It was a tremendous honor to have the first five poems in the first issue of RQ. It was also a complete surprise, when I opened my contributor's copy. I remember helping Kevin by referring three of the better poets I had published to RQ: Annie Finch, A. E. Stallings and Harvey Stanbrough. That worked out well, I thought, with strong poems like 'Blood' by Finch, 'Daphne' by Stallings and 'Resembling Uranium' by Stanbrough. Kevin included some of his best poems, and I thought the first issue was quite good, except for some "quality control" issues such as typos and font weirdness. There were definitely some growing pains involved."

by Kevin N. Roberts

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.

The second issue of Romantics Quarterly was Spring 2001, Volume 1, Issue 2. The theme was "Death and Immortality." Leilah Wendell led off the issue with three poems, followed by Roberts, Carmen and Burch with four poems each. Pendragon and Brennan had three apiece, Constantine two. Poets new to RQ in the second issue included Jeffrey Franklin, Louise Jaffe, Patrick Kanouse, Mary Rae, David Rochford and Scott Vanya. There were also poems by Rumi, Frost, Dickinson, Poe, Donne, Keats and Swinburne. The Algernon Charles Swinburne Poetry Prize contest was announced, with cash prizes and a deadline of October 31, 2001.

Burch remembers: "I believe Kanouse and Jaffe were poets I referred to RQ. I can't remember if I referred Mary Rae or if she already knew Kevin by that time. But in any case she was a wonderful addition, not only for her poetry, but for the lovely cover art she would provide. She eventually became RQ's editor and did a tremendous job. Kevin included one of my favorite poems of his, 'Astrologia,' in the second issue."

by Kevin N. Roberts

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,
Desire dies
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.

The third issue of Romantics Quarterly was Summer 2001, Volume 1, Issue 3. The theme was "Nature and Spirituality." Janice Thompson, the future wife of Kevin Roberts, was added to the masthead as an Editorial Assistant. Michael Pendragon led off the issue with three poems. Carmen and Rae had four poems each, Burch three, and Roberts two. Poets new to RQ included Michelle Barnett, Eric Lee, Joseph Hart, Gene Justice and Timothy Whitworth. Poems by students and poet bios were included for the first time.

by Kevin N. Roberts

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 fourth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Fall 2001, Volume 1, Issue 4. The theme was "On Parting." Kevin Roberts led off the issue with three poems. Burch had three poems, Carmen two, Rae two and Webster two. Poets new to RQ included Ian Deal, Robert Hoffman, M. L. McCarthy, Thomas Parsons, Karen R. Porter and Sonny Williams. There were also poems by Swinburne, Noyes, Heine and Burns. Burch was the winner of the Algernon Charles Swinburne Poetry Prize for his villanelle "Ordinary Love." Carmen was second for "Perpetual Ocean" and Michelle Barnett third for "Adieu."

Burch remembers: "I was on the masthead's Editorial Board for this issue. I honestly can't remember why I was later removed. I think it had something to do with disagreements about 'glitches' and what to do about them, and another disagreement about the upcoming poetry CD. I think nerves had begun to fray. But it was never a formal board, as far as I know. I just made recommendations to Kevin and he did whatever he thought best."

On Parting
by Kevin N. Roberts

You seem a sad forgotten flower
Plucked from some placid fairy-place,
Flushed and flecked with fear, your dreaming-flower's face
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.

The fifth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Winter 2002, Volume 2, Issue 1. The theme was "The Masters." Mary Rae led off the issue with three translations. Ursula Irwin followed with two more translations. Burch had three poems, while Roberts, Pendragon and Webster had two each. Poets new to RQ included Skadi Macc Beorh, Joe Bisz, John Capista, Gregory DiPrinzio, John Dotson, Rhina Espaillat, Amanda McClure and Richard Moore. There were also poems by Coleridge and Swinburne.

Burch again: "If I remember correctly, around this time Kevin was planning a spoken word poetry CD. I believe I recruited Richard Moore and Rhina Espaillat for RQ around this time, and they both had readings on the CD."

It Is Too Late
by Kevin N. Roberts

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.

The sixth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Spring 2002, Volume 2, Issue 2. The theme was "Songs of the Springtides." Mary Rae was the guest editor. Burch had three poems, Whitworth three, Rae two, Roberts two, Pendragon two and McClure two. There were poems by Housman, Herrick, Burns, Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Poets new to RQ included Dylan Bragg, Judith A. Brice, Jack Butler, Paul Felsch III, Susan Landon, John McBride, Tim Myers and David Yuen. How Sweet the Night, a CD of poetry readings published by RQ, included poems by Kevin N. Roberts, Michelle Barnett, Michael R. Burch, Carmen, Rhina Espaillat, Richard Moore, Mary Rae, and other RQ poets.

Burch remembers: "Mary Rae brought an artist's touch to the presentation of the poems and the cover image she chose was lovely. Kevin republished 'Hyacinth' and I noticed that he added an 'e' to the name, making it 'Hyacinthe.'"

The seventh issue of Romantics Quarterly was Fall 2002, Volume 2, Issue 3. The theme was "The Call of the Sea." Mary Rae was now the permanent editor and Skadi Macc Beorh the assistant editor. Burch led off the issue with three poems. The first poem, "Safe Harbor," was a poem he had written about the state of Romanticism in the 21st century that he later dedicated to Kevin Roberts. Beorh had three poems, Moore two, Myers two, and Whitworth two. Poets new to RQ included Charles Guenther, Daniel Haar, Tamara B. Latham and Gail White. Poems by Brooke, Joyce, Shakespeare, Shelley, Wyatt and Yeats were included.

Introductory lines from Fatal Women
by Kevin N. Roberts

The darker side of our love,
A lighter shade of death.
The thing that brings me comfort:
The sweet sleeping sound of your breath.

The eighth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Winter 2003, Volume 2, Issue 4. The theme was "Dreams and Divinations." The cover art was "Miriam's Dream" by Mary Rae. Tony Leuzzi led off the issue with two poems. Beorh had two poems, Burch four, Dotson two, Haar two, Roberts two. Guenther had three translations. Poets new to RQ included Esther Cameron, Michael Fantina, Joe M. Ruggier and Lionel Willis. Poems by Byron, Joyce, Keats, Poe and Verlaine were included.

Burch remembers: "Mary Rae's cover art was beautiful and touching. I also thought her poem 'First Light' was also quite moving."

The ninth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Spring 2003, Volume 3, Issue 1. The theme was "Divinity." Michael Bradburn-Ruster led off the issue with his poem "Lux Mundi." Beorh had two poems, Burch three, Cameron three, Constantine two, Dotson two, Fantina four, McCarthy two, Pendragon two, Willis two. Roberts included his long poem "Ophelia" based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Poets new to RQ included David Kiphen, Leland Jamieson, Norman Kraeft, Jack Lovejoy, Lynn Veach Sadler, Dennis Saleh and Leo Yankevich. There were poems by Blake, Stevenson, Symons and Tennyson.

Burch remembers: "The cover art by Charlotte Payne was lovely. I was happy to see Leland Jamieson included. He had taken up poetry late in life and, after a few understandable struggles, wrote some poems that I thought were excellent and was happy to publish through The HyperTexts."

The tenth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Autumn 2003, Volume 3, Issue 2. The theme was "War and Children." Daniel Haar led off the issue with "Cuchulain and the Morrigan." Burch had three poems, Cooperman two, Kiphen three, Lovejoy two, Kraeft two, Fantina three. There were poems by Byron, Joyce, Melville and Owen. Poets new to RQ included Emery Campbell, Maggie Mendus, Mary K. Meisel and Les Merton. The cover art was "Knight" by Mary Rae.

Burch remembers: "I believe this was the first issue of RQ without a poem by Kevin Roberts. I imagine the poem by Mary K. Meisel was suggested by Joe Ruggier, who had published a book of her poems. Joe had also published a book of poems by Emery Campbell. So I'd guess that Joe probably suggested the poems to Mary Rae, although I don't know that."

The eleventh issue of Romantics Quarterly was Winter 2003, Volume 3, Issue 3. The theme was "Through the Mists of Time." Lee Evans led off the issue with three poems. Burch had four poems, Haar two, Fantina three, Saleh two. Poets new to RQ included Greg Brownderville and Allen Heinrich. Poems by Blake, Keats, Shakespeare and Shelley were included.

Burch remembers: "The cover art was 'Childhood Past' by Anita Rae. The name makes me suspect she was related to Mary Rae, but I'm not sure how. Kevin Roberts had one poem, after a one-issue absence. I was happy to see Greg Brownderville included, as I thought he was one of the more musical younger poets writing metrical poetry at the time. He has since become the editor of Southwest Review."

The twelfth issue of Romantics Quarterly was Spring 2004, Volume 3, Issue 4. The theme was "The Big City." The cover art was "Boston" by Mary Rae. D. E. Lukas led off the issue with two poems. Beorh had three poems, Burch two, Dotson two, Heinrich two, Kraeft two, Roberts two, Ruggier two. Poems by Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Poe, Shelley, Stevenson, Symons and Wordsworth were included.

Burch remembers: "If memory serves, Kevin Roberts published his follow-up poem to Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan' for a third time. I'm not sure if Kevin was revising his poem, or just really liked it!"

Michael R. Burch remembers: "Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there were any issues of RQ after the twelfth. I believe that's the last one I had poems in. There were some fallings-out at the time, for personal reasons. We did patch things up later, but it took some time. According to my records, I had 47 poems in RQ, one personal essay, 'Salat Days,' and two reviews. But I am either unable to find one copy of RQ, or I never received it, or poems I thought were going to be published didn't get published. So it could be 44 poems. In any case, I think RQ was a unique journal, thanks to Kevin's vision, to Janice's support of Kevin, and later to Mary's artistic touch and attention to detail. There were some damn fine poems published that one would never find in the 'big name' literary journals. I just wish I could find the missing issue!"

The Sleeper
by Kevin N. Roberts

(for Janice)

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!

by Kevin N. Roberts

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 Kevin N. Roberts

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
And chatelaine;
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
Alone, Allayne.

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
Yourself, Allayne.

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,
Or entertain,
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?

by Kevin N. Roberts

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
Of Paradise.

She Held My Shadow Gently
by Kevin N. Roberts

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."

by Kevin N. Roberts

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
Mortiche, alas!

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.

by Kevin N. Roberts

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.

The following are poems and prose remembrances written by Kevin's friends . . .


for Kevin

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 youyou 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


for Kevin Nicholas 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.
    Before sleep,
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
    truly bled
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!
Unconfessed, unrepentant;
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

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

Kevin Roberts*

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

Savage Stars

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

Siren Songs*

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,
Spellbound bouquet.
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

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

The HyperTexts