We’d read our book reports aloud in my treehouse. He’d read first. His dimples and his cupid lips. He played clarinet and on the opposite side of the room, I blew the baritone. He never looked at me during Band.


Walked him to his dentist appointment in 7th grade. Went back to his house to play Mario Brothers. Our vice-principal, Mr. Nash, showed up at his door. We hid in his parent’s closet.


You didn’t need me at all. Your eyes were a pool. Your lower body was a question mark. It was like cats in water- they’ll sit in the sink waiting for you to turn on the faucet.


I hope you are in the depths of a new invention. Far away from the trailer and the chain-linked fence. That picnic table. I imagine you in a canoe, on some Wisconsin lake.


When I close my eyes, I can see our tennis matches. Balls bouncing, aces, winners, losers and set points. The cool August evenings. The ache of school looming.


  1. Lisa Alletson

    Each crush is a moment I feel I can touch. I’m rooting for Ben. This is beautiful, Robert.

  2. Francine Witte

    I love how you give us the whole world of each crush in so few words. The chain link fence, the ache of school looming, he never looked at me during Band. These are so great. Love the whole piece.

  3. Al Kratz

    Yes, this is super how fast it’s all built. Each one a little different and all of them together forming something too. I love the image of those cats in the sink waiting for the faucet.

    The depths of a new invention!

    And then the exit image, the eyes following the tennis ball back and forth and all of this has a little ache of school looming.

  4. Len Kuntz

    Gosh, I really loved this. There’s a playfulness, a cautiousness, and a tenderness at work in all of the vinyets. And beneath that, there’s the joy of discovery, of loving and being loved. You have quite a bit a symbolism as well. This is so layered and so well done. Really just a marvel. Bravo.

  5. Jonathan Cardew

    “The cool August evenings. The ache of school looming.”

    This is pure brilliance, Robert! Just perfect in every way: great structure, a vulnerable and clear voice, and laden with lines to die for. That last line just opens out into this whole memory of school. Excellent word choice in “ache”

    “Your eyes were a pool” and “I hope you are in the depths of a new invention” are some of my other favourites, but as a whole, this just works so well.

    You don’t need to touch this at all. Actually, you’re not allowed to. Stop it.

    Oh gosh, I can see this landing in so many places. For some reason, Matchbook came to mind.

    You gotta send it!


  6. Rogan

    This is so tight and smart, Robert. The juxtaposition between the taut prose and the expanding reveals they’re giving. Just bravo!

  7. Georgiana Nelsen

    Hi Robert,
    I love how the voice grows more sophisticated with each paragraph, from tree house books and stolen band glances progressing through to tennis and the ache of school looming. I love how the middle one is addressed directly to Marlon with the pool eyes, and the wait for water.
    Nice to read your words!

  8. David O'Connor

    Robert, each word in the exact right place, so many layers and double-entendres both propel and paint… from the title to each name to each line… this collage paints a world, Jesus, so good!

  9. Jennifer Todhunter

    these are all gorgeous and so reminiscent of the way early crushes feel and what we remember about them and i love how a few of the micros are a look back at things and a few are a wishing for more for them, and that pull of school coming after a spending a summer crushing on someone and how that might change or end as a result of the change of times and seasons is really spectacular.

  10. Benjamin Niespodziany

    What a hypnotizing sequence. I could read these for pages and pages.

    “You didn’t need me at all. Your eyes were a pool.” Phew! Marlon’s piece in general is A+. These snapshots are great, keep going!

  11. Kristin Bonilla

    I’m torn between this being perfect and feeling greedy/wanting more. Just gorgeous images and lines here. Some of the lines are just devastating (He never looked at me during band) and the lift of others (I imagine you in a canoe…) I could read for days!

  12. Todd Clay Stuart

    Robert, I love this! The structure is great, the perfect vehicle for carrying the payload. And what a payload – so many great lines lines, filled with poetry. This is could be fleshed out even more if you wanted. Send this one out soon!

  13. Wilson Koewing


    This is some really damn good stuff here! Beautiful. I just love this idea. Each crush is great in its own way. Quick to the point and you get a sense of these men. My favorite line was “I’m imagine you in a canoe, on some Wisconsin lake.” Don’t know why, I just found that stunning. I liked how the earlier crushes have an innocence and then the crushes that seem to be more from adulthood have more longing and pain attached to them. I dare say this is maybe my favorite thing I’ve ever read of yours Robert and I have read a lot!


  14. John Steines

    Hello Robert. These are really sweet. It’s a nice way to log memory, or interesting way to link a series of memories/encounters. I like the brevity yet the specificity of each. Cheers.

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