Judith Skillman


Percussion on the metal roof

its fingers a mad woman dancing

only for herself

as a grandmother might

in a moment of remembrance

waltz to the Danube

puddles grow large

the longer one turns to a stream

the world ends again

with no ark

no animals to shovel aboard


Not as vulnerable as Faust perhaps

still his pots and pans call beneath a popcorn sky

in October


the clouds’ blind eyes sworn to secrecy

by slant light’s comings and goings

No longer Gretchen


I love my full stomach of poison

my little fool

eaten five times a day sometimes more


The flea bites

maybe that’s age in a house one age or another

college boys singing into beer on tap


Taps driven into the table by no other than

the kitchen warden 

and this sinner


Who wouldn’t be drawn into such a bargain

I ask the earth where soon I’ll lie

my insides pulverized so as not to stink


Who could resist sashaying away from boredom

set chores at set hours

grown children


One mustn’t talk so much he’ll say

drawing the cape around the both of us

conspiratorial through stories 


of rooms behind other rooms

songs inside the melody

notes flat from not having practiced

A constant rain

From the sky

on our cottage

by the ocean

sheets of water

fall sidewise

fly apart

as if some deity

knew we needed

to be alone

here together

tethered to more years

of marriage

than either of us

care to remember



soon to be great 

grandparents as our grand girl

joked us

before she left

our house 

at Thanksgiving

I’m pregnant

so yes

now it is time

to listen

every second

to this dirge

on our roof

away from home

and know that I find

myself back in love

with you

apart from the  clutter

of so many lives

lived inside

one another.

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Judith Skillman is the author of twenty full-length poetry collections, and recipient of awards from Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust. A Landscaped Garden for the Addict is forthcoming from Shanti Arts Press. Poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. Judith is editor of When Home Is Not Safe—Writings on Domestic Verbal, Emotional, and Physical Abuse, McFarland Books. Visit www.judithskillman.com