Ed Skoog: Two Poems


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).



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.

Ed Skoog is the author of three books of poems, Mister Skylight, Rough Day (winner of the Washington State Book Award) and the forthcoming Run the Red Lights, all published by Copper Canyon Press. He has been a visiting writer at George Washington University, Wichita State University, and the Richard Hugo House. He has received fellowships from Lannan Foundation and Bread Loaf Writers Conference. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2015, Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, New Republic, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is poetry editor of Okey-Panky, and co-host, with novelist J. Robert Lennon, of the podcast Lunch Box, with Ed and John. He teaches part-time at Portland Community College, Portland State University, the Idyllwild Writers Week, the Attic Institute, and 24PearlStreet.

photo credit: chrisotruro Poking my lens… bw via photopin (license)