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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Poem: 172 words
By Robbi Nester


Are you being sinister or is this some form
of practical joke?

—Allen Ginsberg, “America”*

I came all the way out here, and now you’re burning. 
Flypaper freeways twist and curl, vibrating with trucks 
and cars creeping down the off-ramps like mourners 
at a funeral. You uprooted all the native species, 
replaced them with these blighted palm trees, 
knobby-kneed brown hills heaving with quakes. 
You used to be so beautiful. Now everything’s 
a housing tract, eucalyptus and lemon groves 
chopped down long ago to build condos 
in pre-approved shades of grey or blue. 
No more life in the tide pools. California, 
the tents of the homeless line every street, 
soon to be purged from the pavement 
like roaches. Once you were a bride draped 
with garlands of orange blossoms, bouquets 
of white egrets. How long will the redwoods 
send out new shoots, the ocean and the open sky 
air their lacy lingerie? Tell me, where is there to go, 
now that we have used up this whole Earth? 



*Publisher’s Note:

“America” by Allen Ginsberg (Berkeley, January 17, 1956) appears at Poetry Foundation (link retrieved on 8 January 2023):

Robbi Nester
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

lives and writes in Southern California, where she is a retired college educator and an elected member of the Academy of American Poets. She curates two poetry reading series and is the author of four published books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has four more manuscripts awaiting publication.

Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including among others: Artemis; Book of Matches; Cultural Daily; Dear Vaccine: Global Voices Speak to the Pandemic (Kent State University Press, 2022); SMEOP (Hot) (Black Sunflowers Poetry Press, forthcoming); Live Encounters; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Mindfull; Naugatuck River Review; Rhino; One Art; The Journal of Radical Wonder; Tiferet; Valparaiso Poetry Journal; Verse-Virtual; and Zooanthology: About the Animals in Our Lives (Sweetycat Press, 2022).

Robbi has also edited three anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014); Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Journal; and The Plague Papers, recently published online at Poemeleon Journal.

Poet’s website: www.robbinester.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Dancing White Egret, ekphrastic poem by Robbi Nester after a photograph by Philippe Rouyer, in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 14, August 2022)

After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem by Robbi Nester after a painting by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

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