By Jonathan Skinner b. 1967 Jonathan Skinner
you hardly wait for a chink
to open where something to say
might issue, and not more blue
smoke. the heart is a small
red pyramid, totally relaxed
you put your finger on a map of
the Balearic Islands, orange
as ironwood & what a strange day
comes out of you like bluets
it doesn’t matter what you say
the ruins stand in a green shade
tall, taller than Odysseus
serving up his baseless dish
and around the yellow taxicabs
go, exhausted with the age
they are smashing your mind
purple, a Phoenician sea


a cold boned idiot, she sang
make me young before I’m old
the heart is a stomped out place
and I’m gonna let it shine
I’m not here to kiss your ass
or benefit from the lot cause
Baudelaire’s one eye tricks
us all social freeing leaders
on packets of exotics, flesh
withdrawn from the collection
I counted twenty goof balls
standing around in their hose
a godawful business chant
you went to sea, captured live
on imperial destroyers
they wanted to erase this song
or maybe you just forgot


stuck in the domestic blind zone
getting it on, legless and pale
Susan murmured down her breath
this is the sound of plaster and hills
marching through a void like ocean
a knob with no way of knowing
if it’s tuned to redwing or swift
this is the look of an old gold ring
embattled, barebacked and elegant
the love bullet your future squeezed off
never explosive, clocked and tender
as a last night on the Caspian sea
this is the taste of a stunted youth
the sprig of parsley in your teeth
like a hairpiece or a question
curling up between the sheets
Susan sang and turned it to dust


as hyperbolic as a trumpet
or just chanting the rain away
Jennifer kept stretching
I was scared. spoke with a Cuban
at the laundromat, who knew
or said he did, how to fix
the backwards flow of time
the incompatible logics
daunting as before and after
so help me Kipling, I got
a cheap ticket for Cancun.
was it she who broke the rivers
in two, sheltered a hurricane
named Earl, dancing nightly
to the tune of Gospel Four
I’d find out if I behaved
got a haircut, in the tropics


May green in the vein, her boots
not marble but inflamed in a pattern
got from Garth Brooks, pierced me
freeze framed or medusa’d
–I hit back hard. bits of sunlight
were ripping through the air
I concentrated on the pebbles
oak leaves like spaghetti catchers
were dancing, no handles. I
stared straight into the sun
avoiding the subject, for hours
neither original nor spelled
backwards as in tulip– opening
up to let the grubs in, her hat
satisfied but medieval was a dare
from another world, yes
if I could, to spit out the sum


I don’t see any hope
year after year, another ergot
epidemic in the colonies
if you remember me, spurned
by the worldly vanities
in an elegant but weather-
beaten frame– unlike Priam
I had no orifices. this is sick.
all men are entertainment.
sometime after that, I was
in the colonies, & I got sick.
do they say the bought stem
poking its way through the holes
in an embroidered dress
can’t bring her, unlike Checkers
to not return her call-
go and get your own damn god


more of a wistful Fenollosa
after all, in her radiant gesture
obsessed with dolls, flouro fishbait
worms and bingo pieces
Susan sort of crept up on me
with leaves between spread fingers
I conjured the images she’d adjusted
the amphora of a squirrel’s tail
the wailing of a gnat, a juiced
up version of the Africans
untroubled by impasto, her biography
would include a history of colors
nails, she conceded, were gutsy
but imperfect in this age of plastics
the spewed and shredded earth
hung about her ears, with one foot
she typed the word sardonic


attention shoppers, when I eat
I am filled with tenderness
my breath is lukewarm w/ pease
or lentil dust, what will you wear
when you take me to the disco
viscosed, a husky staple in your nose
on the thruway inventing rhymes
as a thin wine, mostly rusted
bursts vesicles in the Aesop’s fable
of your throat. my chateau
a fifties throwback, with common
lines and a cambered outhouse
fails to please. if anything
it’s significant as it crumbles:
the British consulate donates these
bedbugs to the next resident
alien or ancient, a vocal matzoh


to this world of trash and plastic
the squirrel in a window light
on the wall, in blue velvet jumpers
was singing “Tu veras,” a song
planted on my face like stalks
of an eye in the brain, fine vertical
webs sailing through the day
shavings inside of a brittle ear,
in the wine cellar the radio’s static
reaches in to pierce the gloom
forcing imminent shadows, some
lively & positive throbbing
Paris, you forget the little lamb
gamely poised upon the stair
in the quivering darkness of trees
where you strike, hypothetical
as sunrise, running across cables


the coal era which is ending
shits on our little civic duties
collides in the brain pan
with the rising middle class
I took the track I found
in chateaus and vagrant tunnels
& built my house, underneath
rushing onwards to get wet
decently, a primal terror originating
in the changes of the lovers
my heart hangs between, a blue
frame on an ecstatic haze
belched in lungfulls, and stacks
that leave a film of sparkle
on your sleeping, I enter quietly
& turn on a faucet– could
see the future and that’s scary

Jonathan Skinner, “Mined” from Political Cactus Poems. Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Skinner. Reprinted by permission of Palm Press.

Source: Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press, 2005)

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Poet Jonathan Skinner b. 1967

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Relationships, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

 Jonathan  Skinner


An editor and ecocritic, Jonathan Skinner was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He earned a PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2005. His collection of poems, Political Cactus Poems (2005), was printed by Palm Press using an ecologically responsible printing process.
In Rain Taxi Review of Books, reviewer Francis Raven described the poems in Political Cactus Poems as “firmly rooted in our current . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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