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Category: Ed Skoog

The West is a Place That Kills and Kills and Kills

They made it up one morning

to keep the money busy

and kill everyone else

I lean against the gas station wall

a few miles outside Yellowstone

sketching a stranger’s face

under the dirty skillet of night

What will save me is the taste of miles

killed with the wheel of blank stars

with alone sound of struck string

on the dead highway

I’m working mink oil into my boots

mountain lions drag elk to the cabin door

The old man we pick up in Browning

coughs diesel and range

Snow blocks us from fishing the reservoir

wiper blade waving as if to flag us down

A dog pisses on my tackle box at the Conoco

The guide who leads us here

catches fish like a covenant he’s entered into

Will such mastery save me It doesn’t him

Halfway up another river the Lostine

trout lacquer over calico stone

Early sparrow calls us together

into the tent which I zip up in one motion

The yearling sets deer-heel

down in payment on flattest moss

Like any river its job is to take away

A friend’s son dies

A week in their house full and desolate

opens a room inside me

throws open slams the door

Outside the battlefield garden’s left to nettle

bone-white trellis an old-time tragedian

The roof is molting

The porch is wolving

In the garage I find no rake

only the animal we’ve been hunting and avoiding

still in the bat’s tooth of its cage

from Poetry Northwest 05.2 Fall & Winter 2010 & 2011More by Ed Skoog from the library

Copyright © Ed Skoog
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Karaoke Night at the Sunset Bowl

if you sing

“Sexual Healing”

late at the bowling alley

before they tear it

down for condo,

say the night it comes

down to my crowd

of content providers

and the professional

women’s basketball team

all of us singing past

midnight while the lanes

sweep and are darkened

pledging to each other

not to go breaking hearts

to survive, stay alive

and I in neon shuffleboard

become someone else

then someone else again

without breath

when will we

be blameless again

I sing “Wasted Days

and Wasted Nights,”

I like the torn and

restored soul that groans

I’d sing with you any song

any falling-out-of-speech

young singers are so good

at sorrow you’d think they

knew something about it.

from Poetry Northwest WEBMore by Ed Skoog from the library

Copyright © Ed Skoog
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Unknow the Dying Sea

In my fever, I wrote along the margins

unknow the dying sea and in high winds

the will & testament I’d been preparing,

unconsciously, went flying behind the barracks.

Most of its sentences I found easily

but some had ingested the thorn,

and a few like this one I never found again.

Stranger, let’s be one another

in magnified senses one a blue fragment,

the prize just some long hair behind us

or be one absence together stown away

and let us become the periphery of what we said

knowing was, before I thought the piano

upright against the yellow wall brought forth

a figure in the mind consonant with part

of the universe has that striking fuzz

and periphery, mammal or fledgling gentle

or a question so dense it can knock seven times

secret tones from wire’s worn suspense

but it is the piano’s hammer

shaped like a teardrop (it is a teardrop)

or flame (it is a flame).

from Poetry Northwest WEBMore by Ed Skoog from the library

Copyright © Ed Skoog
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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