Wayne Robbins
     You have beautiful hands
   the veins protrude on the top of them
     they are tanned

Please bring another turtle to us.
     You are a kind man

And when you write nice things
on my paper
     My heart aches. My eyes
          form tears

     I splash to the ground

Wayne Robbins

—AC Church

Ed. Note

Once upon a time, AC Church had an English class at a small-town North Carolina community college. Wayne Robbins was the teacher. I love to hear the stories about this man, his classroom, and the handwritten comments he returned on every assignment. And how Wayne Robbins had turtle medicine. He would rescue them from the road and bring them to class.

AC Church is one of my most important and badass teachers as a poet, writer, and person. In a yoga practice, whenever I hear the teachers thank their lineage of teachers, I always think of how my lineage reaches back to Wayne Robbins. I wonder about who his teachers were. When we decided to include this poem, AC got in touch with Wayne Robbins to ask him for permission to use his wonderful name. He said it was ok, but then we had to email him again for more permission to include his email! You’ll see why. This is what he wrote:

From: Wayne Robbins

Subject: hiya Wayne it's Amber

To: AC Church

Dear Amber,

Thanks for sharing these words with me—It really means a lot.

I tried to be as objective as I can about a poem that has my name as its title.  I tried to pretend it was someone else's name, like Jeremy Smith or Esmeralda Sanchez (I made those names up).

That helped.  I like the minimalistic approach—no words are wasted and every line creates a clear and interesting image in the mind.  And I like how it captures the importance of a mentor's impression on a student.  And of course I like how the poem itself has somehow made me write nice things about your paper again many years later.  That's pretty magical—

I had forgotten about bringing that turtle to class.  I love turtles.

Thanks again for contacting me— Let's keep in touch!


Ed. Note, cont’d

The latest-but-surely-not-last installment in the story of Wayne Robbins: When I left the front porches of North Carolina to be a student of poetry in Los Angeles, California, AC Church made me a pair of mixtapes for my drive across the country. Somewhere before the Tennessee line, I heard Rowboat of Stone
. Wayne Robbins & the Hellsayers make sweet music, which you can find in the usual locations, and Wayne Robbins is still a songwriter and poet who teaches in the Carolinas.

—Rachel McLeod Kaminer, Guest Editor