Robbie Q. Telfer

Robbie Q. Telfer

BandSpoken WordComedy

I take my spoken word performance rhythms from stand-up and my inspiration from punk rock. I'm like a preacher in the church of Nerd with a social conscious who isn't preachy. So I'm a non-preachy preacher who likes Star Wars, Muppets, and justice for all!


I'm a touring performance poet, having been a featured performer/reader/lecturer in dozens of universities, festivals, open mics, high schools, retirement homes, bars, and living rooms across North America and Germany. Previous work of mine is published in the American Book Review, Octopus Magazine, and a forthcoming cream city review, as well as several spoken word poetry anthologies and DVDs. I live in Chicago where I perform in Marc Smith's Speak'Easy Poetry Ensemble and am the Performances Manager for Young Chicago Authors, a not-for-profit that gives creative writing opportunities and mentorship to Chicago teens. In August 2007, I placed 8th individually at the National Poetry Slam in Austin, TX.

As a performance poet, I recognize and give equal attention to my performing persona and the thought that informs my words. I am therefore equally inspired by Steve Martin and Charles Bukowski - my favorite performers leave the audience still talking about them after the show has ended, my favorite poets write performative poetry that construct invisible mics and stages between their lines.



Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer


Awkward and dirty
Fourteen showed me no inherent home
I was not sport-oriented nor very socially accepted
I smelled badly and had skater bangs
(They were like the curtains to a play where all the actors were acne)
Despair was imminent
There was an all ages club
Two blocks from my high school home though
I was scared of the clientele
Lined up to get in every Friday and Saturday
They were even dirtier and awkwarder than me
With their torn t-shirts, scarred skin, and electrically charged haircuts
I did not initially accept them
Except their ideology couldn’t help but accept me
I was drawn to go to the show
My first punk rock show
Half-expecting to be stabbed by a skinhead
‘Cuz I talked to that Jewish kid in my biology class
I entered the damp nicotine haze
Vacillating between hope and doubt
While the Meshugennahs, Winepress, and the Bol Weevils
Gave me a crash course in beauty
I was stomped
I was bruised, cut, scraped and stomped
Stomped by a skinhead
But it wasn’t for talking to a Jewish kid
It wasn’t for anything specific
It was because this world is uglier than us, man!
And while I don’t share his bald politics
Skinhead Ron split open my head
To the explosive expression
Of movement to release
Flailing because fuck you I wanna flail
I’m gonna punch that guy in the back
Then I’m gonna spit on the stage
And the music’s so fast
You’re always on beat
As long as you don’t stop moving
Don’t stop spinning
Sweat and bleed out the reasons why
Being awkward and smelly and fourteen
Is next to impossible in this age of showering and coordination
Because there is no logic to our social structures
Logic is for assholes
Pathos was our king that night
We were all individuals together
A breathing vibrating mass of gelatin
A jello mold with bones
Being stirred by the music
Being served to the music
We don’t feel the beat
The beat is our feelings
Thumping out the heart rhythm
Of a cokehead on diet pills and speed
And maybe I was deluded
But those hundred frustrated kids
Kicking the shit out of each other
Was the closest I’ve ever come to unconditional love
All you needed was six dollars
Fists and feet
And you belonged
It was a war with no casualties
It was hardcore, safer than reality
You were home in the dance
Your home was that dance

youtube of poem here:

Concrete Jungle

Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer

Concrete Jungle

Zoom in, take the picture:
There’s a fenced-in field of grass I pass
everyday somewhere near the very center
of Chicago
And despite this field being filled with
cinder blocks, busted bricks, Sarajevo-level debris
the grass decides to grow here anyway.

Obviously, we’re the grass
Despite the discrimination, segregation, gentrification
despite the Truth we all go die
despite the truth that writing about struggle is cliché
despite all this
we grow, we live, we write anyway.
Symbolically, we’re the grass.
No shit.

But let’s talk about the non-
symbolic field for a moment.
The actual grass that sprouts here emerges
un-metaphorically fuzzy,
like the whole thing is out-of-focus
distinct urban detritus punctuates this fluctuating static
sea of yellow-green.
And that’s beautiful.

Not beautiful because only I hold the poetic keys to beauty
Not beautiful because mother nature is stronger than humanity
No – sometimes shit is pretty.
Why does everything have to mean something?
I love this fuzzy fenced-in field and
I want to turn the poet off when I see it.
It’s neat.
I like it.
It makes me smile.
The wind pets it like a dog raised to old age with love.
It waves at me like an almost forgotten
flashbulb memory that I haven’t judged yet.

Zoom in, take the picture:
I’m a little kid,
chin on knees,
leaning against a garage now torn down absently
pulling on the limbs of an action figure
peering in at the darkness inside its organless carapace.

Zoom out
in the 20 years since that snapshot
I’ve learned to clutch onto all and any
anxiety-free serenity.
I know it’s only temporary
I know the real sadness this field of grass holds and represents
I know what grows on graves
I know this
I don’t ever stop to frolic, skip
work or abandon responsibility
but if you don’t occasionally
collect these small soundless images,
meditations of secular reverence,
an invisible nihilistic selfish shell will
grow slow from your inside out
until you completely forget why
man invented cameras in the first place.

Zoom in:
There’s a broken red pick-up truck in my mother’s
driveway that belongs to a dead man.
Weeds patiently burst from the hood and sun-bleached bed.
Bees dance and zoom out the now quiet engine block.
So much depends on the red pick-up truck beside a torn down garage.

I love the dead man, I hate that truck
I love the weeds, I love the bees, I love the yellow-green grass.
Now you try. Take the picture.

(to be published in a forthcoming anthology from Write Bloody Press)

The Photographer

Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer

The Photographer

(Group punctuates words with camera flashbulbs. Robbie has a professional camera.)
Group: Pop Snap Click Kaboom
Pop Snap Click Kaboom

R: Hello, Supermodel
Welcome to my office
You wanna make some real art?

Group: Pop Snap Click Kaboom
Pop Snap Click Kaboom

R: I am the hulking invisible
sweating from moment to moment
memory to memory
nimble picture sucking
hands, eyes dancing.

I am your path to immortality
I am the buttress of your remembrance
I will lubricate your intimate
duplicate your intricate
I bring you gifts of ghosts and ghosts of ghosts
I give and give you ghosts and ghosts
in neat little rectangles
and despite all that I do for YOU
I am the first one forgotten after the kiss of the flashbulb

I am the narrator
the curator
the unseen dictator

I’m the photographer
and your future
is in my hands.

Group: Pop Snap Click Kaboom
Pop Snap Click Kaboom
R: Fear
G: Snap
R: Joy
G: Click
R: Evidence
G: Kaboom
R: Irreverence
G: Pop
R: Get together
G: Snap
R: Smile
G: Click
R: Don’t move
G: Kaboom
R: I see you.
(Group continues chant underneath)
People used to think that pieces of their soul
were being stolen
every time their picture was taken
and considering the lengths some folks go
for the squares of fame I dole
maybe there’s a reason people were so
protective of their souls.

I’m a vampire
feeding on that piece of your spirit for survival
the bite from my lens lets you live forever
gives you the itch to be an amateur vampire too
and I won’t be reflected in your memories’ mirrors
and I only go where I’m invited

unless you’re famous.

Group: Pop Snap Click Kaboom
Pop Snap Click Kaboom

So take my albums while you still have hands.
Let the nostalgia suffocate, overtake you
for what is nostalgia
but the wonder that accompanies the realization
that you’ve survived your own life.

that’s my final gift
appreciation that you’re not yet dead
clutch it close
it’s yours
free of charge.

(performed in Germany with Marc Smith's Speak'Easy Ensemble)

Awkward Scars

Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer

Awkward Scars

Do you see this one?
Got it from a sniper
Perched up by D’nang
See these?
Sharks – thousands of sharks
They came after me because I told ‘em they were ugly sharks
This one’s the shape of a lady
I got it from kissing the devil
In the manner of the French
The devil dared me to
And my pappy done told me:
“Boy, you always take on the devil’s dares –
It’s how you prove to God you ain’t a faggot!”

I don’t have a pappy who done tells me things…

Our scars
Like accidental tattoos
Carry stories
That we tell
Whenever prompted
And because of the storyteller
And their personal brushes with varying degrees of danger
Each scar will inevitably reflect
Their keeper’s personality

I knew a kid in high school
Who was cut across the stomach
By a bear while he was sleeping in a tent
He knew this made him a badass
And he acted like one too

Has a keloid scar where they put in
One of those big metal bars
Through the cartilage in his ear
Because he asked them to do that to him
On purpose

Has a shimmering gash on her forearm
From when she fell into irony
Trying to play a prank
On her little sister

Each scar-bearer – badass, masochist, prankster –
Have their stock stories
They unfurl
Each time inquired about these
Individual imperfections
They are shamans of their skin
The storytellers of their flesh
Walking reminders of the pain
Their identity’s culture has endured

Now I present for your consideration
My real scars
See if you can figure out who I am:

On my left hand
A tiny slit from fourth grade 4-H carving class
My first and last 4-H carving class
I was trying to make a cowboy hat
Out of balsa wood and kept slipping
Kept cutting my hand
This scar is from when I was too
Embarrassed to ask for another band-aid
Because after my third
They started making fun of me

Inside my right hand
A piece of pencil lead
It broke off when I jerked
My hand away from my
First and last 6th grade friend
Because he was trying to
Wipe his boogie on me

About my face, chest, arms
Chicken pox craters
I started getting the little poxes
On vacation in Orlando
My first and last
And I thought they were zits
So I kept aggressively popping them

The back of my head
The roof of a bank
Blew off and landed on me
In the passenger seat of a Chevy Suburban
If I hadn’t been slouching
I would have had my skull crushed
It was the first and last time
I’ve driven in a tornado watch
It was also the first and last time
A fucking bank landed on my head

The bottom of my right foot
I stepped on a piece of glass
While running barefoot in the snow
For the first and last time
That was the joke!
Run barefoot in the snow!
I’m a fucking idiot!

My right shin
I fell – slipped in wet paint
Playing paintball
For the first and second-to-last time –
I wanted to make sure paintball
Was fucking stupid
Turns out it is

That’s all of them
All my inescapable stories
You probably have a good idea
Who I am now
But in those six little stories I’ve told
A thousand times
They’ve been edited
To fit tiny narrative arcs
Bite-size stanzas
So I can get through them
So I can represent just who I think I am
So I can pretend to control this pile of fear
I call Robbie Q. Telfer

But these aren’t the stories
I wanna carry on my body
And they’re not even the whole picture

(left hand) carving class, never finishes or masters anything
(right palm) pencil lead, no genuine friendships
(face, chest, arms) chicken pox, always making things worse
(back of head) roof of bank, the sport of the Gods
(bottom of foot) broken glass, fucking stupid
(right shin)
I didn’t get the scar from paintball
I got it from the doctors
Who cut my leg open and drained it
For an hour and a half
Because I never healed from the paintball fall
And I was awake the whole operation
And I was holding my mother’s hand
While Greg, my step-dad, cracked jokes
In the corner to keep me conscious

(left hand) perpetual amateur
(right palm) friendless
(face, chest, arms) dumbass
(back of head) Godless
(bottom of foot) dumbass
(right shin)
And I know that Patrick and Annie and you
Have other scars too
With stories attached
That aren’t and can’t be
Perfectly resolved or publicly shared

If I could
I’d have excellent scars
Received as symbols for love lost
For those lost
That I need to be reminded of
The impact they’ve had on my skin
And it’s expansion into this awkward man
That the landscape of my body is
Exactly what it is
Because of them
I want to be able to say,
“Oh, you see this canyon on my back?
That’s my grandparents in the ground.
And see where half my face is missing?
That’s Rick.
And see where the other half of my face is missing?
That’s Greg.”
How excellent. How accurate.

Have you seen this nature documentary?
It was on agai

2002 Silver Chevy Cavalier - EXPLICIT

Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer

2002, Silver Chevy Cavalier

(brooding heavy metal music)

Are you tired
of feeling
like a pussy?

Are you tired
of never
getting laid?

Are you tired
Of crying yourself to sleep?

Introducing the 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier
Your ride out of pussy-town
Into the streets of Bad-ass-sylvania!

Guy: (Arm around wife)
I could only stomach making love to my wife
Maybe two or three times a year
But now that I got my 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier
We fuckin' fuck every fuckin' night!
(clenches fingers tightly around her shoulder)
Wife: (smiling) Honey, you're hurting me...


When you're cruisin' the strip of downtown Flossmoor, Illinois
In your 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier
You're gonna need to install
Some kind of nerf bumper
So you don't kill all those hot bitches throwing themselves at your car
Cuz' that's vehicular manslaughter
And you'll go to fuckin' prison'

Different Guy: When I get behind the wheel of my 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier
I don't even use my hands to drive
Because my dick gets so big,
It drives for me!


With four doors,
a round steering wheel,
and transparent windows,
If you don't get laid
Driving your 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier
You're probably gay, retarded, some kind of deformed freak, or a gross-ass combination of all three!


Convincing Lady Voice: This is what a hot bitch sounds like. I love initiating the sex act with men who are woefully aware of their inadequacies.

Get your 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier today

2002, silver Chevy Cavalier is not legally responsible for claims of giving you magic sexual powers, attraction to the opposite sex, or the ability to grow a vagina just so it can get wet. 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier may or may not start properly depending on what time of day it is. If it rains on 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier, park under an awning, giant umbrella, or the breasts of an enormous woman immediately, otherwise 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier will explode. If ever you find yourself alone, shirtless, tanning in an open field, 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier will creep up on top of you and take a dump on your chest. If given the opportunity, 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier would kill you and everything you hold dear by starting a long-range nuclear war against the Confederation of Independent States. It is not advised by anyone, living or dead, that you actually drive 2002, silver Chevy Cavalier, unless you're fucking crazy, all rights reserved, e pluribis unum, sic temper tyrannis, beat-buh-beat-buh-buh-beat, go Bayside.

Leave your bitch-tits at home, pussy!


(youtube video -

Dyno-Dudez Theme

Written By: Robbie Q. Telfer

Dyno-Dudez Theme

Adventure… NOW!

Come on, gang
Not a second to spare
Hop on into the Dyno-jet
And take to the air!

We’re gonna save a prince
And plant a tree
Sing a song
All before three-ee-ee-ee!

We’re the Dyno-Dudez!
Oh yeah! That’s right!
We got horns and dreams and technological things!
We’re the Dyno-Dudez!
Hygeine! All right!
We’re takin’ it to the Extree-ee-ee-eme!

(Electronic drum solo)

Dyno-Dudez, sound off!

I’m Axle!
Big Stonefoot!
Hey, where’s...? CHEEZER!
What? I was hungry…

We’re the Dyno-Dudez!
Look out Sharp-Fang, we’re comin’!
We’re the Dyno-Dudez! Dyno-Dudez! Dyno-Du-oo-oo-oodz!

Action! To-night!

(YoutTube video -


My first chapbook is called _Television Children_ and my first CD is _Girls Like Feelings and Ponies_.

My first full self-published book can be found on and is entitled _My Huge Heart Still Has No Room for You_.

I've also produced a chapbook and CD with famous spoken word poet Mike McGee called _No Showers Till Toronto/No Showers Since Chicago_ and _Robbie Q & Mike McGee: Live at the Bowery Poetry Club_, respectively.

My first collection of published poetry, _Spiking the Sucker Punch_, is due out in the fall from Write Bloody Publishing (

My work can be heard on the IndieFeed podcast online as well as YouTube.

Set List

My sets can vary to fit the need of the show - 20 min., 40 min., 60 min., 90 min.

I perform poems like "Dance" about my first experience in a mosh pit, "2002 Silver Chevy Cavalier" a satire about my car that interrogates advertising, "Dyno-Dudez Theme Song" a parody of adolescent cartoon them songs - all available on YouTube.

I also frequently cover other poets who, like myself, straddle that gap between performance and page. I think Emily Dickinson would have been a dope slam poet if she wasn't totally horrified of people.