2 poems — Skip Fox

maybe and again

within sound the soundless, without sound a darkening
cacophony of need blots sky, blue thick with black of
crow & the din of caws, black hinges pivoting in an air of
imprecations, scissor-sharp, honed as housewives with
hoes and a lexicon of knives, tongs, and burning shit-
balls, inside of which the glow of a purely attentive
intelligence, like liquid light, readiness at edge of pause
rests over the expansive ever-wavering night while notes
spread across the otherwise soundless world flying loudly
into tree, as our eyes try to register the precise gradations
and visitations of color as sun casts its last rays over
the omen-filled pine, now silent, obliterations manifest,
as staring straight, their stony eyes pierce the darkness,
starlight shattering on the windows of what dark rooms?


one such another

each inaccessible to himself, isolate,
freaked, a burnt doorway, cousin of no
other, strapped onto the surface like rust, caught
in the hot metals of his blood, adrift on spirit’s
vasculature, though sometimes the face runs
wild, grabs strangers like a sobbing child,

dark out-rush of story spilling forth, breaking up,
countenance incontinent, spilling forth in clumps of hot
vomit, me voici!, attempting to assuage the loss, quotient
factored by what was promised, what is held, slipping, and
what hope holds still, pouring into an empty ocean wherein you
drown once again, annihilation of self in mind’s eye, form

flowing into form, beams barring sight, the ecstacy of another
forever deferred, withheld, a severed root over a writhing
plain, while given to the sheer, you trip, stumble into light
as vertigo swallows you entire, without a single,
simple thought, and the glass goes sudden white,
you look down, and you’re falling all over

again, only this time there’s no net, no bottom,
no way out, condition blue balls, acetylene’s leafy tip
ripping your genital seam, tearing through a self hysterically naked,
or as in dream’s negative, taking it out in handsome weather
with a rakish smile and a fat wad cast palm-ward, deftly,
to the tune of leather-strapped spinsters lathering up

the ol’ pelt, a festering lair fringed with fungal rot in
floral essence, luminous miscreance, unbounding abundance
of virus, roadkill, rabid rat and feral cat, all manner of dead and
decaying matter, sogged plant, black, organic sludge, orgy of maggot
riot, trapped in its glaze, rapacious devourer of life even in our midst,
never enough appositives for this . . .

yet in its layerings one might also witness other-
wise, plains and valleys, surgings of idea, grace of flesh stretched
over bone, comedies staged on the frontal portion of the head, aspect
open (as onto the stars!), certain, eyes crossing and recrossing
the manifold aspects of the zodiac, planets on seas
of night which ever seek our fractured fate,

the passions having their characteristic expressions impressed
upon the on prow of continuance, a text readily apparent to those
who look, sometimes uniquely mixed or crushingly predicable insofar
as genus or type, capricious yet such that we’d be blind without such
sight, not knowing how anything might again be known,

an incarnation in physiognomic weather, perhaps, an indelible
affront, being cast on the main of one’s “characteristic appearance,”
articulate as a flaming word, adamant as stare and as readily apparent,
though rarely if ever recognized by the subjects themselves,
trapped as they are in questions as to the effectiveness of
self-deception, the sea awash beneath everyday dementia,
wide empty grin, interpreter of essence or condition

that same yeare it was proclaimed that anyone
professing skill in fisnomie, was deemed rogue
or vagabond in English law, & set upon by brand
and whip ‘til head & limbes be bloudyed,

all creation runs riot in a single face, shoemaker, mass-murderer,
artless boaster in middle age, eyes wide in wonder or exhausted
with rage, recognitions frozen in a hush as just after a lightning
flash and the stockyard stampedes, rails clattering onto the
foreground, stage set beneath a blood-rich moon glowing
upstage with an exaggerated insistence, the imperative
trampling the hard ground of radical discontinuance,

is it more difficult to see the face than the heart? disappearance of self
for want of sight? what lives in the dark? what was grafted on
after multiple tearings, and addictions, withdrawals, retearings until
we no longer recognize what wavers there before us, image set
in mind aware only in the way such things are aware, no reflection
in the reflection, in other words there are only words. . . .

or site whereon gathering lights might once again be witnessed
in luminous sheen, slightest flutter of mist in lonely weather, glimpse
of being’s mistress at the cusp of incipience, space pregnant with form
forever aborning, inhabiting spirit-gaze crossing countenance,
as with an canteens, horses, maps, journals, samplings,
lists of flora and fauna, all the various weathers duly
recorded, as eyelid speaks to cheek in the long
conversation of equals, wonder of staring portal . . .

released from catoptric address, silence before speculation’s
first impress, questions inverted in ear as in mind, anticipation’s
soft gasp immediately prior to answer clearing the horizon
of apparency and coalescing, as though into the actual,
an essence at last, out there and in here at the same time,

condenseries of self in space and light and time, face flowing into
face (Who am I this time?), what worlds of spring, ripe gatherings,
approach morning’s window open on lawn, mind waking to
sun drenched tree, sight without remission, clouds manifest
in their occasion, estates of eye set in silver and dust,

engaged in antique interrogations, harbinger of soul’s weather
staring back in an echo of light, as the frame disappears and what is
becomes what it seems once again, and as though it always was,
as our countenance becomes us once again, turning the we might
turn to face the features of our fate, and there take measure


Skip Fox dedicated his life to poetry in 1969 while on the lam from the F.B.I. (draft evasion) and working in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula. He married, had a family, went back to school, and graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1981, the same year he began teaching at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, where he teaches yet. He has published a scholarly bibliography, four multi-genre books classified as poetry, five chapbooks, a selected poems (University of New Orleans Press), and a novel.