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 …
After Yun Dong-ju
From the floor of my room in a foreign land. Morning breaks open
with newspapers, each one with terrible promises
of deportation and imprisonment and murder of my friend, a poet,
then another, until they are all gone.
I ran out into the streets though it was not enough.
I screamed out in horror though it was not enough. The sun began
to sink faster, …
& you take me to the field’s heart,
all golden & consumed, This is not
yours; you take me to the house
doubling over on itself; we wade
ditch grasses & overgrowth to push
a battered door; we walk wall
papered halls, the peel of peel, &
you run your fingers over chips in
railing, This is not yours; you walk me
down the gravel road, palms tight,
wind everywhere, & this?
Felicia Zamora’s books include …
That cloud: a white, fluffy boxing glove.
The amputated man that sits on the seat
of the cliff: I am afraid he is in ecstasy.
He stole a spandex dress from a seven-
year-old girl and donned it himself.
Amazing, isn’t it?
The woman with elongated breasts: she
seems to exit a Mario video game.
His unabbreviated thigh casts two
Their ability: to sketch two dark marks
on the side …
Fry an egg on the sidewalk
Burn your feet in the sand
The waves are massive, the arms get tan.
Watermelon is mealy; sorry, I don’t like it
Nor the cake made into a flag
Just give me strawberries and vanilla.
Ants all over the picnic
And food poisoning in the sun-hot salad
Honey, there’s sand all over your hand.
A float dressed up like the Statue of Liberty
Horses leave their droppings
As they follow …
It’s not the gemstones or fossils
Sold to tourists and museums
Says Sherpa Lhamu of Dingboche.
Not even Dalh Baht that keeps us
Nepalese nimble like mountain goats.
The West calls it potato.
The Chinese call it tudou—bean of earth.
But we call it aloo—small, muddy, bountiful
Heavier than mountains.
In spring, before snow melts
The whole village stops:
No cooking, no music, no fire or visitor.
In silence we plough, bending over the soil
Until every seed …