About Mikels Skele

Poet. Explainer. Foreigner-at-large.

Dangerous companions

A child finds himself wandering alone
In a forest, seeing a campfire and, drawn to it,

Finds dangerous companions, thinks,
What is it I am afraid they will take from me?

Not the place of my birth, or of my rearing,
Or the place from which my ancestors sought refuge

Not the things I’ve inherited –
Blue eyes, brown hair, big feet and a guilty conscience –

Or the illusion of permanence that is itself
The only permanent thing I know.

My life? Such a fragile thread!

You ask why I don’t write a poem

you ask why I don’t write a poem
about what’s coming down all around
us as we speak

what’s to say about a life in the wilderness?

but it’s not like I haven’t tried god knows I’ve given it
all I had, spent my quota of midnights
so many poems fluttering in the blowback
utterly panicked
rhymes scattered like shell casings
meter cleft in the borning
aground on the shoals of the dead

wanderers always think they have a home
beyond the vapor trail but you and I,
my weeping friend, know we’re already there
the time has come, my dear, for reckoning

‘tis the past and not the future beckoning
and so in this hour of false redemption
we offer thanks for a return
to mere abomination

Soldiers came

No, not these soldiers – others,
so long ago, ravening out of the forests of
Middle Europe, or the sun-dappled hills of Rome,
or down the rocky shores of the Yalu River,
or the Nile Valley, so green, so parched,
and still we hear their echo,
the clang of their steel, the dull thud
of cleaving bone,
and still we slash and slash, hoping to get it right
over and over, each death a travesty,
each new birth the death of a memory.

My god, you’d think by now
we’d have done it to perfection,
and abandoned it out of boredom
for some gentler pursuit,
but dealing death is our darling,
and a jealous one at that.

Paralysis

Nothing out, nothing in,
just some vague breeze,
a distant flapping,
not clear, not near,

A reminder
of something unremembered …

Is it time to go?

Is it time to pack
my pockets with
bits of string,
mysterious faded notes,
strange fragments of
other lives?

Or start over,
let the past remain aloft
overhanging
skin and blood alike,
no denial,
no justification,
no recourse to fame and fortune
or disgrace?

Obligato

you ask why I don’t write a poem
about what’s coming down all around
us as we speak

what’s to say about a life in the wilderness?

but it’s not like I haven’t tried god knows I’ve given it
all I had, spent my quota of midnights
so many poems fluttering in the blowback
utterly panicked
rhymes scattered like shell casings
meter cleft in the borning
aground on the shoals of the dead

wanderers always think they have a home
beyond the vapor trail but you and I,
my weeping friend, know we’re already there
the time has come, my dear, for reckoning

‘tis the past and not the future beckoning
and so in this hour of false redemption
we offer thanks for a return
to mere abomination