Weekend Poetry: Three Poems by Jeffrey Skinner

When Asked Why He Wrote, John Ashbery Replied:                                                                   I Don't know, i think because i like it

This is the best answer

To jostle me awake, to push

My ass from bed & back

To the blank page.  There, over

& over I have tried to say

Something not stupid

About time & the people I love,

Writing being one non-

Toxic tonic for the restive

& uneasily amused.  Hey look,

Here’s the past again!

A different color for each of us—

For Mario the Pacific

Was olive that chill day, while I

Saw it hunter green, & so on

Down the differentials

Of memory.  But we suspect

(I suspect) the past

Exists beyond my 3-D mind

Maquette, somewhere

Just as it was, held together

By the sugar of feeling.

Scenes fifty years

Gone still play—blue flowered

Skirt Nancy wore a

Blur, head back, squeezed-shut

Eyes smiling, arms out,

Twirling in the forest;

Muted laughter from the clearing

We couldn’t see but knew

Was there, as we left it.  

But I see you, Nancy, each time

The scene replays, your face

Unchanging, floating

Through me like motes in sunlight

For no reason I can say.  Who

Knew we’d put so many

Words into this world, or

This world into words, & keep

On writing as long as I am, & you are—

That the story may continue.

What a novel it’s been!  

Horror, pain, pleasure, bliss,  

Fresh fruit, Venice, sex!  Beloveds,

Let’s sleep a while here in our middle chapter

Until the last sentence is written

& we wake, & walk out of the book.



We can see the hawk circling,

Eye thumbtacked to one chicken

Different from the others.

Many effective ad campaigns


Flatter by suggestion: Go

Ahead,escape from the herd!

Thereby selling millions

Of identical units.  In this case


Difference is not a good.

Other chickens wisely clear space

Around the marked one


Pecking alone in a clumsy circle,

Shadow of wings enlarging.


Voyager I

No word yet from other galaxies

Maybe we should have hand-written the note


I can’t see space without movies

Might as well pour the ocean into my head


Still, the sun has no helper

Unless you count everything it keeps alive


Coconut oil sparks off skin

Grass bent by wind, dunes of Montauk


A handful of sand about the size

Of consciousness falling through my fingers


I don’t care if there are others as lonely as us

This sadness ocean is enough



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