136.1: Ed Skoog:: The High Chasm & the Drop Ceiling & Let the Candidate Finish & The Train Runs Late Through My Arms 136

Ed Skoog writes of his own aesthetic that he is interested in how “the poetic mode can be at once coldly artificial and hotly personal.” As I read this group of poems, I come to understand this statement through a sparseness that both intrigues and pushes away from the reader. Skoog keeps each line short: the longest line among these poems is seven syllables. Among such short lines, a line with six syllables reads like arms spread wide and ready to embrace us. These lines are also often the most independent and intimate—“I don’t really see this,” “let the coyotes die,” “I turn into a fish.”

These poems’ austerity can feel cold until they open their arms to embrace you. But though the embrace is never long-lived, the coldness, once you’ve returned to it, takes on a different chill—not unwelcoming, but the absence of welcome, the longing for contact. In the midst of that special kind of coldness, then, a dazzling image rushes in to fill the empty space between your arms: “the jet picks me up/at my dad’s place/the moon makes/its chalk outline.” In a poetry workshop classroom, the students would say to expand. The workshop would say tell us more. But we mustn’t underestimate the power of saying in your own dark room to a poem before you, tell me more, leaning in and reading again. S. Whitney Holmes

The High Chasm & the Drop Ceiling

Her voice has
captured the world
as he drove

am waiting for
you at the marina
I don’t really see this
turning out well

let the coyotes die
as I name them
I saw the driver
of the getaway car

take my shoes off
walk the creek
I turn into a fish
an auspicious deadline

would type a letter
before breakfast
throathouse fiddle
and peachtree root

tonight I feel
studio backlot
regimental sparrow

Let the Candidate Finish

Chants we chanted
and began building
thriving bass
from a passing car

closes the door
television she left on
cold pigeons more
this year than last

cruise ship austere
above leaves
driving along
sunset is frying

end in elderly jackpot
the many meadow
everyone in
the local hospital

the giant shouts
into a microphone
the heavy
chair of insomnia

the jet picks me up
at my dad’s place
the moon makes
its chalk outline

The Train Runs Late Through My Arms

Oranges ripen
beside the grudge match
although I have not
yet been born

aluminum this
our small capital
a loyalty program
until I lost my home

astride though bright decay
at night
my shadow
is your shadow

before the appetizers
have even arrived
blind I did
love the burn

swim out into
the gutter and glisten
that and the trees
and old billboard

that spring
with the scarred hand
the dog coming
in from the rain