Judith Skillman

Judith Skillman Poems

Tasted, smelled, rising from hot asphalt, sweet rain
in the street where a man works on his camper in the rain.

Like desire, felt less often now we are old, the joint pain

To scissor the palm from an azure sky
men come, holding blades, unlikely
Machete taken from a drug lord whose luck
Fell when the tunnel entrance,

'L'heure vert' in French equals, roughly, Happy Hour

One to go and workday's finished,
smudged like droplets against
the window. Who else craves anise-


Like pain it came and left by halves
and now mostly it stays on,
a boarder too poor to leave.

Too much to ascribe
to the heavy air
circulating false tropics,
yet more comers

Our dark bird of symbolism, our caw caw.
Where does the train of thoughts go?
In what order, and is the river of Lethe
above or below the earth? What about heaven -

Mid-March, the black and white of winter goes on pouring
images upon the window- a surface for rivulets of down pour.

Those whose lives we tend to ravish come and go of their own accord.

The crescent moon climbs into its dark circle.
From the white lilac, shoots curl, dark circles.

The sun sets due west. We watch the Olympics.
In the saddle there, once we came full circle

Out of my finger in dream
holding the head in my right hand
feeling the pain the shaft
beneath layers it hurts to bend

Never the children we wanted to be, we ran away, sat on porches, hobos holding sticks with makeshift bags attached. Unable to stop the arguments, we left,

Those who romanticize morning
hear it only at dawn.

The ones who suspect foods of poison

How heavily it sits on one—
the chewing of the cud,
the pastoral.

Always rushing, dressed for business—
the bobbing hats,
the one by one and across the street
as if it were

I only knew him
as a traveling salesman.
At times he came
into the hotel

In the kitchen
I have water, bells, a candle.
I have a man in the living room
reading from a screen
he holds in his hand.

These the last before colony collapse
sip as when I am no one
and the Romantic era descends with dusk.

from Kafka's Conversation Slips

You must understand, for the time being,
that I am without flowers. The Viburnum

Nation of water and excess,
each droplet another source
of loss and discontent.
Or else what music calls

Come around corners, towards you,
without intent. You are the figure the women
draw in a dark room, lights at their easels
casting halos. Their scrutiny does not equal

That's Kafka's father there,
crashing through the door.
Pausing in a soft light
to consider the fragility

Judith Skillman Biography

Judith Skillman (born 1954) is an award-winning contemporary northwest American poet and the author of fifteen books of verse. She is the winner of many poetry awards, including the Eric Mathieu King Fund from the Academy of American Poets, and has received grants from the Centrum Foundation, King County Arts Commission, and the Washington State Arts Commission. Skillman is also a translator from the French, most notably of the poet Anne-Marie Derese. In 2013 Skillman publish a book on the creative and practical processes of writing poetry, Broken Lines - The Art & Craft of Poetry. It is targeted at poets whether just beginning or well advanced.)

The Best Poem Of Judith Skillman

Sweet Rain

Tasted, smelled, rising from hot asphalt, sweet rain
in the street where a man works on his camper in the rain.

Like desire, felt less often now we are old, the joint pain
and fatigue competing with that other. Sweet rain

rising, lifting the dampened piano that hides its teeth
beneath a lid. Sweet rain, bird song, all the rain-wet

exigencies a house brings to bear. Valence, curtain,
scrubbed porcelain. Perhaps a mouse-brown rain,

pummeling the decking. Or a violet sky shines behind
cloud cover, dense with time. Where shall I go, rain,

how can I recall my only name? The man's sweat
pays for no one's poverty. Often I feel jealous, sweet rain,

of brother and sister — gone to Sweden, or France.
That's the end of the story that began with a father's rain-sweet

face, poor past, Holocaust. Let the locusts swarm, sweet rain
brings them down out of the dogwood, they die by sweet rain.

Judith Skillman Comments

Subhas Chandra Chakra 29 October 2017

A rare poem by a poetess with such an artistic skill, Sweet Rain is a poem to remember for days ahead. I love the simplicity and the great perfection in the skill of choosing the appropriate word. Thank you dear for such art of writing. Regards. Subhas

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