After they freed me from the wreckage
I saw the horse my truck had cleft
and to whom I imagined the job
had fallen to close a gate or mend
a fence that would have
kept the horse and me apart
the horse together, I forgave
knowing my own lapses made
pain I would never learn,
the small horse of civilization
galloping too fast for any of us
the blue and red lights, blood’s
favorite colors as branches pulled away.
I conduct myself at night
by the arrangement of stars.
So delicate is my sermon to water
it has become my own skin.
Most afternoons you’ll find my
impossible body on the boardwalk
or run alongside it like a shadow
while the alligator you keep
back in the mind’s fearsome draw
shows up here only as a fleck
of duckweed and a wash
drying when you turn around.
Signs for the Rodeo
To see you again is like getting used to
the rodeo signs which went up
months in advance along my route
to the city, and became part of my calendar
though I only thought about attending
in the abstract. Picture me there
what would I do – whoop? Out of
town when it happened, I returned
to find the signs gone, no hoofprint
left to prove hard victory or sad loss
what drama sidled through the crowd
what some child felt for a clown
clowning out of a barrel as the bull
bore down? No, I came back home.
The rodeo had fled with the rest of time
although like for you I hold some hope
to lasso what always never happens,
hold it loosely, like rope.
Ed Skoog is the author of two books of poetry, Mister Skylight (Copper Canyon Press, 2009) and Rough Day (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), which won the 2014 Washington State Book Award. A third book, Run the Red Lights, will be published in 2016. He lives in Portland, Oregon.