Under my skin

Skullfinger ribrattles banjo my nightjar lids,
those fictions, those nictitating membranes
stretched between the Pleiades. (Say what?)
I will make of my Adamic rib an ivory toothpick.
Look, there’s little else you can do with such
bonewhite lies as I am heir to. (Soup?
Scrimshaw?) I mean, sure, a skeleton’s O.K.
for morality plays. But the inescable
optimism implicit in my barebones grin?
That’s not me. I am what I ham what I eat.


I go slow because I can,
practicing non-attachment:
pieces of me break off & stick
to anyone who gets too close,
& I’m not responsible for
whatever happens to your wet
nose next. Let me be.

Trees are my only love.
You may have seen me high in an elm,
sihouetted against the night sky
like the moon’s bucktoothed uncle.
I find a mate once a year
on the coldest night in January,
& our fierce cries make even the bears
roll in the graves of their sleep.


House, my ass!
It’s a carapace
to which
I’m stitched
& welded
& I can no more
leave than you
can enter
these six doors
with no locks—
which are all
one to me,
headless legless
round box


One Sunday morning
kids sneak onto the construction site
nothing but a cage of studs & trusses
with a floor they play upon for hours
running from room to imaginary room
the whole world close enough to touch

In partial response to a ReadWritePoem prompt, “peel the onion.” It’s another experiment in open-content collaboration, which I applaud despite being too much of a loner (see above) to engage in true collaboration very often. (And I should add that all my poetry is always available for creative remixing, as the CC license on this site makes clear.)

9 Replies to “Under my skin”

  1. Funny how the mind works…

    Dave, as I’m reading this, I’m still hearing the music of Apocalyptica in my head. For I’ve just been listening to some of their videos via Erika’s blogpost. I recalled you sent me an email about them many months ago and I found that link too and listened again. Now your words, read fast, meld with that music in a most cool way. And I’m not usually into heavy metal.

  2. I’m glad you applaud open-content collaboration. You know, you’re pretty darn good at collaborating, despite your loner-ness. That exquisite corpse we drafted still has me swooning.

  3. I had to go back and check – 12 of 12? Looks like it’s been awhile. I know you don’t do a lot of self-revelatory writing (although it could be argued that it comes through your work and comments anyway, as it does more or less with every artist). Anyway, I like the poem – very interesting, and appropriately skeletal for the day after dia de los muertos.

  4. marja-leena – Thanks for that link to Erika’s post. Sounds like Apocalyptica really puts on a good show!

    I was thinking of you on Saturday night, when we saw the Altoona Symphony perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Erika Kiesewetter as the soloist. Some really nice dissonaces there, and ample opportunities for the violinist to display her virtuosity. And she was at least as active on stage as the cellists in Apocalypica.

    Dana – Well, we’ll see. There were a few good lines in that piece; not sure how well it will cohere.

    leslee – Glad you liked. Yes, this was for the Day of the Dead. The Self-Portaits series was originally in response to an artistic challenge, a non-competitive ‘contest’ organized by Crack Skull Bob which drew quite a large response. But from time to time I add another post if it says something about how I view myself.

    David – Thanks.

    Bill – I learned that word via the Spanish cognate originally – Cesar Vallejo used the plural noun form (crepitaciones/crepitations) in his great poem “Los Heraldos Negros” (“The Black Heralds”).

  5. Damn. These thrum and vibrate. An audio would be good. Yes. Top it off.

    Hard to pick a favorite stanza or line. I like the compilation as a whole, and go back and forth, room to room. I like the idea of house and tree and sticks and frames and cages. Lots to think about.

  6. David – Yes, exactly. My totem animal.

    Deb – Wow, that’s quite a gratifying response! Thanks. I’ll see about making a recording. Depends on whether I feel sufficiently extroverted this afternoon.

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