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
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
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.
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
- Jeffrey Skinner is a poet, playwright and essayist.
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