First Lines to Stories

by Daniel Robbins

I have a notebook full of them
Most are about the dead like
my friend whom the plumber

found on the floor or a purse
snatcher’s white chalk outline
in the parking lot of a grocery store

One is about falling down concrete
stairs I got a concussion and
dreamt I was an old fisherman

Two of them are about New Orleans
I don’t know why but they were
not about barges of scrap drifting

down the Mississippi at dawn or
a clarinet version of Amazing Grace that
made a man go to his knees I remember

he wore a yellow suit Instead they are
about cab drivers who jerk like beeline
clockwork down the narrow of each street.

In some of them my middle name
is a very courageous character who
drinks too much and carries a lucky

French coin All characters are
smokers and most in love that is
unrequited because they are

after all only first lines My favorite
is one about a girl She had lush breasts
and one day in rage knocked a glass

ashtray off my desk It chipped but
I still use it The day prior we had gone
to a cornfield to see the Virgin Mary’s

image in the stalks and the roadside
of Mexicans who had traveled and
camped in tents There were fires

and chickens on the shoulder of
the highway I could never get past
the gas station that sold plastic rosary

beads and little wooden crucifixes
next to caffeine pills I’m not Catholic
but I bought one and some cigarettes.

Daniel Robbins is a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as editor for the Kaleidoscope and technical writer for the IT department.  Recently, he has appeared in The Allegheny Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Aura Literary Arts Review.  He has won several awards including the Barkesdale-Maynard Poetry Award and a Hackney Literary Award for Poetry, and is currently working on a book about comic-book literature entitled In Defense of Men in Tights.

Daniel Robbins was nominated for Poets Under 30 by Bob Collins.