About Mikels Skele

Poet. Explainer. Foreigner-at-large.

Once I saw Ozymandias

There, in a glass case
in the Cairo Museum
lay Rameses II, who imagined
that all who looked upon
his works would despair.

Desiccated, a shrunken pith
of a man, he reminded me
of nothing else but
the last slab of salted cod
at the closing of the market,
unsold.

Despair, indeed, my king,
but not the way you imagined.

Awakening

To say my father loved Jesus
is as wrong as saying he feared him.
To him, Jesus was a landlord,
a creditor, someone owed a debt,
which, left unpaid, would end in pain,

not only justified but welcomed,
insisted upon, and in the great
tradition of the spawn of Yahweh,
pass on to children and their children,
the unwanted and unearned burden of birthright.

Good morning, says the baptist, and
slaps you on the butt. It’s time
to be fitted for your chains.

Dark natter

We’ve lost the will to listen,
instead expressing and expressing
without end, without impression
as if we were generators and not motors,

as if beams of reality flowed
brainless and wantless
toward – what? Tomorrow?
There is no tomorrow,

today only, in a false succession
of todays. How can there be
expression, alone and only?
There must first be an emptiness,

gradually filled with the stuff of galaxies,
or more remote still, of giant gas clouds
or invisible matter, so dark.

The death of Bernardo

I remember a moment in fifth grade,
when it was announced
that Sister Bernardo,
who taught seventh grade,
had died.

There was this brief
eruption of joy that
we would not, ever,
have to endure
her legendary cruelty.
It was an utterly spontaneous, and
therefore uncontrollable, eruption
which collapsed almost
immediately into despair.

There stood, at the head
of the classroom,
Sister Mary Henry,
in all her indominable
forbiddenness, and we knew
that she had recorded the reaction
of each and every child
in her prodigious
and never-failing memory.