Saturday, March 28, 2015

Two Poems by Judith Skillman


They said, and I did,
my body a pool of torpor,
there beside the sea.
On the branch,
Anna's hummingbird
grew quiet, no longer
flitting from flower
to flower.
They said it as an order,
as a conveyance, a way
to preserve energy
in the body as it dies
for want of youth, for loss
of elasticity.  I saw
with one eye, and my yes
was yes, and this night--
cold as Anaconda,
crevassed with the Andes--
this night I believed
could kill me if the word
did not.

The Small Worm from Which Cinnabar Comes

Adhered to my thoughts,
as if thought
were a mucous, a substance
gluey and tenacious,
an ugliness accorded
to the self.

A centipede
could burrow no farther
than this intense wish
to inhabit my fear and shock,
its hundred legs.

Get rid of the grub.
Go parent your ugly past.

There, balls of mercury
scatter, a glass thermometer's
broken by nothing more
than gravity
to fall in slow motion.

See that you ring up
the bell dead set
against winter, those dull afternoons
during illness.

The old rage
of the father, or God,
rolling like quicksilver.

Scattering roach like
across burnt umber floors.

Judith Skillman's new book is Angles of Separation, Glass Lyre Press 2014.  Her work has appeared in Tampa Review, Cimarron Review, Tar River Poetry, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, Seneca Review, The Iowa Review, Southern Review, Poetry, New Poets of the American West, and other journals and anthologies.  Skillman is the recipient of grants from the Academy of American Poets, Washington State Arts Commission, and King County Arts Commission.  She has taught at City University, Richard Hugo House, Yellow Wood Academy, and elsewhere.  Visit

1 comment:

  1. I have been in that night and raged through the dull afternoons. Resonates a great deal with me.