Feature > Poetry
Ed Skoog

Ed Skoog

Ed Skoog is the author of Run the Red Lights, Rough Day, and Mister Skylight, and the forthcoming Travelers Leaving for the City, all published by Copper Canyon Press. He has received fellowships from Lannan Foundation and Bread Loaf, and served as the Jennie McKean Moore Writer-in-Residence at George Washington University. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Where Does the Starting Happen At 

in the space before       unbeginning scroll
     before the set of disagreements          language of the shootout
which is language's unscrolling
  nothing specifically human about the heartbeat
a crumbling wall

there they are, agents of the figure, or a summer
airing and having just arrived, afternoon

           they put away their light duffels in the rooms
they talk about the labor of dinner, divide
  into pleasant domains the onion-chopping
corner-swept, bedmaker

 following an idea long-clapped and retrived
long walk around the pond, a bleak
  dead-eye of when memory will falter

 dusk between leaves

a breaking into the eye

the way back's one-eyed      

     and unstoppable, I have known annihilating
 desire and ripped gently apart like a thing
       with gears with last, felt duty and blazed

 and I have stayed, stayed, stayed quietly
      with bliss of supper and play on the carpet
          before bed. And I have tried to make sense

 and make meaning and make money and
masks, and I have deer on my side instead
          of hunting, and the rolling of dice instead
 of their enumeration

a painted bell, a portrait
that rings. And watched the scroll in museum
light, static and coursing.

Watched day develop
            all in one person, the many-personed self,
    heat in the shade, the long sentence
waiting for the doors of granary to open,
      dragonflies by the pond

the garden and the wild
    rough drawings behind it, and I am working
  my way towards dying in my own surround-
   sound increments

Farmers at the waterwheel:
 the massiveness of the farm in their shoulders,
  angle of the bucket

the weight of the cooperage,
  that's where the beginning, spilled droplets
in moth-littered dust. Even before we met,
           we never got over each other. Over you,
    and the composite blue. Winter does when
 we are together things

All at once the congregation
 gives up, sells the bell, sells the sleds. The shale,
      and the shadows of the shale. Leaves you

walking from the chapel to the train
    livid with sleeping bags and wet couches
      we never get over each other, in person.
 Past the forms and the farms

past quarry and query.
    The moon's flesh and the river's an ink stain.
       Under the bridge they step out again,
 argue with the pallbearers and the brides' pallor.
        The birdseed and bindweed. They stop for milk
  around midnight, and get me some hot dogs too
 while you're in there

I'm not going in.
      Where am I suddenly. O the land of the dead pardon
me, I didn't realize it, and the letter said they
        aren't going to be delivered
are they. I had thought
  the audience for these moments was an ear
         like my mother's ear

but now I see the slip.
 Have these gallons been a trap? Galleons,
   sailing from the right edge of the drawn world.


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