Bio of Tom Roby IV

Tom Roby IV is President and critique leader of The Poets' Club of Chicago. He has taught poetry at every educational level from high school to graduate school. His poems have appeared in journals, at libraries, and on public transportation. Tom Roby IV has published three books of poetry.


Posting Graveyards

Somewhere, sometime, someone delivers
a letter to a graveyard, pushes it through
a mailbox slot in the fence where it waits
until the breeze carries it to mausoleum,
to tomb, to graveside, to tomb, for the dead
to read to find out what’s in it for them.

No one knows why anyone writes such a letter,
puts it into an envelope addressed to whom
it may concern, and drops it off at the graveyard
gate at sundown. No one that is, except
the dead, who will be pleased at the concern
that someone still shows for them.

Everyone, except the dead, must think it
useless to write a letter to anyone who
no longer exists. Yet some things are so
important that they must be written down
even if they are never read because
if everyone were to see themselves

as dead—smaller and clearer as through
the opposite end of a telescope—then
we would all understand the importance
of writing and hand delivering our letters
to a graveyard gate and for patience
to await the favor of a reply.

Tom Roby IV

Peacetime Casualty, 1940

My first father was all preparations
for the well-timed world war he failed to fight.
Why did he leave me no decorations?

He punched out his playmates, made reputations
with touchdown heroics, the cheerleaders’ knight,
joined after-school clubs for more preparations,

Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts, his justifications
for Midshipman, Ensign, a future so bright,
left me diplomas for wall decorations,

then made out quite well at cohabitations,
chance father by day, in the night sybarite,
his proud blues parading great preparations,

a drunken car wreck that stopped assignations,
his martinet father left on the drill site,
a closed coffin funeral, no decorations.

Death in the war would have left compensations
of medals, citations, a hero upright,
full realizations of armed preparations.
Why did he leave me no decorations?

Tom Roby IV