Now things are getting complicated. The roots that connect my stories to the inside, the fleshy roots
at the underside of the stories, topography of land and sea and love sending sound and body from
the underside, the roots reaching to the inside
are winding and thinning as they enter, towards a center
trying to foul things up; where the threads meet is thrashing:
Minotaur again, shapeshifting or some shit.
just after sunrise at the Radcliffe CoMart lunch counter,
the day’s work already done.
Been beyond a rough season.
Emerald ash borers come up in the orchards,
gutted plums and cherries.
Acres of dent corn so stem-cankered
every granary in the state is less than half-full.
Old timers calling it an omen,
proof of half-assed faith in earthwork,
saying a field is like a woman—you have to praise her
electric grit if you …
This wistful and luminous wet is bright;
is eye-arresting in this courtyard,
demanding notice, coated in its own
slick skin of dust that drifts on water,
lit white by sunken lamps, obscured by glass.
You stand across the brushed-clean concrete
in conversation, words too hushed to hear but still
the spill of them is bell-sweet and
brilliant, almost as if
this fountain is charged,
full and flush with fire,
as I have seen the San …
It hasn’t been a hard day, but the clouds are taking their retreat.
I want to write for them a way to cultivate new shape.
Which means – I want to write for you more than an apology
for my Midwestern posture, how uselessly polite I can be
before rain falls and then, ankle-deep in a ditch of mud,
cigarette boxes, chocolate donut wrappers – …
Johnson, VT, March, 2017
I watch two girls outside my window
gliding on the frozen banks
of the Gihon River, their laughter
carried by the crisp air
of late winter. It’s Spring technically
but it’s hard to tell with the piles of snow
barely melting from rooftops. I …
I been there, rock cold pulled from and into
Bombay Beach’s television sandstorm
dead sea and sea salt halts
a desiccated fish grave exhaled
out of sand
where feral seraphim, dished and frayed clouds
ruins on top of ruins, excavate and see inside
the betrothed lives of the Salton Sea
if you have a dream
you have everything,
if love came capsuled inside
every por vida you whispered
then I would accept your version …
In darkness we’ll talk,
until we fade,
about cooking on TV,
or protests at Berkeley.
We sift and settle. We drift
to the coyotes howling
pagan hymns in a choir
that gives them up to each other
in their time of need:
brother, sister, loved one:
here I am, come feed.
They warble, laugh.
When they do we know
they’re only a short walk
from our window, no more
than a quick half-minute’s stroll
(in those flickering,
everything is fractional).
And then, …
Rubber band of sleep
tight across my eyes
I wake to ocean lights
like stars, work of a boat,
or farther, pin-lamp of ship.
Tide, the gray-haired
waves comb toward cliff
surrender an improbable
tree whole, and then back
into totter. Was that
what I was all night,
buoyed and torn.
Ed Skoog is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Run the Red Lights (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Zócalo Public Square’s daily ideas journalism and free public events aim to shed light on critical issues that explore our shared human condition and ask questions about how we navigate the world we’ve made. We publish a new poem each Friday in the same spirit, and for the last six years, it’s why we’ve awarded a prize to the poem that best evokes a connection …
I breathe differently up here.
The wind across the river is busy
with commerce and worship, columns
at my doors. Rooms from the upper city
in my veins, in my bones I feel it—
a slow drip over stones. When the seasons
break free, I cower and lean to beginnings,
sheath-wet. I’ve found no comfort here. Wisps
of sorrow rip their clothes off and skip
down that street that hasn’t been used
since last summer. I am …