Day 30 brings us the well traveled Ed Skoog, with a poem entitled “Party at the Dump” from his recent full-length collection, Mister Skylight (© 2009, Copper Canyon Press).
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE POEM
A few months ago, I went into great detail about the power of Mister Skylight, and I’m delighted to share another poem from the book. “Party at the Dump” leaves nothing out, but rather than get too metaphorical or mystical with “one man’s junk” type thoughts, Ed thrusts us through disillusion and old fashion weirdness as the scene shifts in and out of darkness and light, dawn and dusk, and all the sweet filth that makes possessing a body such a strange, joyous ride. Take your time and let it unfold.
Party at the Dump
What can’t be seen under the thrown
was home. The sky and its turbulent guard
fresco the kestrel storm harmless and east,
arrive like a hostage, an ear, a finger in the mail.
Wind unhooks the mirliton vine, kisses each begonia.
Shadow bricks the window shy. Cups fly.
There are times one ought to charge or fall back.
What I win from masking-tape tic-tac-toe
on the bedroom’s nine windowpanes,
I spend in silver, spend in empty hallway.
No one’s my brother tonight, watering his lawn.
So I take my chair to the roof flat as the hour.
Wind hangs laundry on the gable.
The hour is suitcase and landmine.
The moon rises over the abandoned town
like cutlery on the high shelf.
Our fishing camp is hip-deep now,
at the end of tidal song. Westbank cattle swim
to the east bank, and wind turns wood
in high cello. Sunset ripens and ruptures.
If I were nothing I’d be home by now
in Hemet, or Anza, or Los Angeles,
below the moon’s IV drip. From the pueblo
of the anesthesiologist and soup spoon
there is some wandering up. No one there is
my brother watering his lawn, and he calls
to see how I’m doing. And this is where I start,
at Mr. Samuel’s Tire Shop on St. Claude Avenue.
Life must be worth something
for the loss of it to hurt so much.
Take the foreign policy of weather,
palmetto bugs caravanning up the lime tree.
Winds crater power lines, and from these,
an empty and alone beauty busters down,
bullies the shotgun house, keeps a body
up late. Dogs know, the wild ones,
wheel-scarred and healed, that the storm
brings from hiding to scratch a deaf ear,
to sneak short lifelong sneaks brave to live:
I know the secret is to stay low,
adventure between calendar and heart.
Today’s hurricane flag only waves in photos.
The ocean opens Grand Isle like a casket.
We hit the beach late, dimple blanket
beside the fishing pier, where children seal,
spell with sparklers the Fourth of July.
Roman candles fire green artillery into the sea.
Teenagers park, sneak through scrub
to beach, and burn driftwood distinctions
between lie, lay, lain. My interest
is in things that disappear, ten men in dark
jackets staring asea, some foreign orchestra.
Is that you in the seat ahead of me?
You’ve never been here before.
This frog comes halfway in the open door
of Butler’s Bar and Restaurant. So it must be
frog time. Saturday night scouring levees down
into the gutters of Tchoupitoulas.
Then it’s Sunday and I’m at your doorstep.
Between Mr. Samuel’s and the cop garage:
water. As a kid, I knew the magic show
was a shape of eternity. And somewhere else
the desert smells like fresh belts and sweetly
tries to take us down. We went to look at what
was being forged, a quarrel in the mountains,
sketchbook avalanches covering up the world
and its passports, any business what the mountain does.
Hostages wash up at the embassy, unharmed.
Seven days after the storm those who did not want
to leave, or did, find ground in the laughter of loss.
When the wind turns along the fence, when the gray
horse rounds the turn, blue arguments gnarl
podiums of sky. Wind knees its August februation.
The boy with the web painted on his face
pursues his thoughts through the vineyard.
A Poet a Day is a month-long celebration of poets and poetry, in honor of National Poetry Month. Writers reserve all rights to their work, and all work appears with their permission.