Monday Mar 27

SkeenTim Tim Skeen coordinates the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State.  He won the 2001 John Ciardi Prize for Kentucky Swami (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City), and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize for Risk (2014).

Pink Rose Urn
for Sally

The organs of the senses—sclera, cochlea, epidermis,
ethmoid and papillae—like the rest of the body reduced
to ashes as unremarkable as black and white photos
of places you’ve never been. In California the taps
are running dry. Records for heat fall each month.
People you never met debate whether swimming pools
actually conserve more water than grassy lawns. But
from now on, wet or dry boom or bust feast or famine
are all the same—this world no longer has a hold on you.
And if you had too few triumphs, at least claim this:
you used up everything and left nothing, no desires,
no dreams, no explanations nor apologies, no letters,
diaries or poems, no dog waiting by the door, no plot
of earth, no physical body susceptible to corruption.


In the Google Earth image of my parents’ house,
it’s always a green and sunny August 2013.
The shadows on the front yard are as sharp

as if they’d been drawn by an Etch-A-Sketch.
His truck’s gone this morning. More than likely
he’s at Dunkin Donuts where he’s meeting

his retired friends, Bill, the fireman, and George,
the teacher, all recent widowers in common.
If Dad has batteries for both hearing aids,

he might listen to something about the weather
as they sip their coffee. If not, he’s nodding
and saying, yeah, yeah. His neighbors’ cans

line the road, but his are beside the garage,
so it’s Friday morning. In the house, his cats
Peanut and Princess are napping. There’s nothing

on the front step, so the two bags of groceries
have yet to be delivered. As if he were alive,
I remind him to be careful as he stoops for them.


The reservoirs give up old stumps,
leaving persimmons, oranges
and almonds to the perfidy of nature,

a world without cause and effect.
Who wouldn’t be a little suspicious?
The phone rings in the middle

of the night. Neither of us says a word.
Old girlfriends get married years ago.
The male and female mallards swim

side by side in the stillness of my pool.
One hawk perches atop a fir. Garnet
is the stone for January, a labial red,

the color of persimmons, a most
fastidious tree, a crooked ladder
leaning against the empty sky.


This body is just made of elements, and its appearance and disappearance
is just that of elements, which have no identity—Zen Master Mazu.

You tidy up your father’s room, curtained
With afternoon sunlight through the north facing

Window, the one with the nose prints of a dog
That has been dead since you were a child.

He never allowed the glass to be wiped clean.
Who knows when anyone’s coming back?

To be sure there’s a man to cut the grass,
Who keeps the weeds out of the lilac bush.

You know this quiet time could go on for the rest
Of your life, this slow motion astonishment

Calling itself grief. When you think of the house,
You recollect a game you played there as a child,

The vibrating electric NFL/AFL football field
With the tin players convulsing in all directions,

Which in turn reminds you of his pacemaker,
Even now trying to stun a dead heart into brilliance.