I am a poet…..until I read the others

the angry ones—throwing down words like big money.
poets for a new world (you don’t say poetesses anymore)
writhing in water caves,
wriggling out of a soft boiled egg—earless fish
thrusting out of a forsaken womb.

into a flim flam world of back-breaking tragedy on the news… and television reruns.  fake fake phony phony, set up rip up, pay up— think what we laugh when we kill if we—and be very afraid.  Come! look over heresoft grief sells hard fear—.

buzz this buzz and keep busy.

Buzz buzz Busy busy Buzz buzz.

What’s to be done?
Drown it? Drench it?
Down it with beauty?
(Wedgewood and nice table manners)?


Recite Tennyson over the collective voice:

*“…Away! away! profane ones! ye whose days
Are spent in endless sin and error’s maze,…”


something dear has disappeared...lalala murdered over the coast of la la…e coli, Ebola, Deadola…he opened his hand and she placed in it her beating heart… police have issued an amber alert la… and her eyes too—last seen wearing blue trust la la la…so that he may have her wondrous, luminous adoration ever upon him LALALALALALA  open fire, changed landscapes, and littlebrownshoes… the hands of a person of interest….LA.


Ye mad birds
pecking at hard refusals from the inside
tired of boundaries
compelled to expel
tortured thought snippets—soon beaten into clarity by human chains—ping!

(it only takes a lifetime)
Their war is borrowed
their soul is fine—just rolled in sticky words ( betrayal’s jam fingered offspring)
blue and yellow and earthy-red war painted words
on a naked body.
(It is sad.
It is admirable
It is the condition of those with big eyes
and swollen tongues)
to signify—I am here!
I am here defying clothes
protesting child labour and other travesties.
I will fight
for the right
to express the unexpressable from my very thighs!


sticking out it’s wild-eyed chin and breathing heavy—accept me for all that I have seen; accept me for all that I have done; accept me for all that has been written upon me and all that I have confessed upon you—or not at all!         (but please do)
Centuries of black, feather flapping shame has come to….?  Curtsy before the poets, like goodly Ambassadors of the dark corners of the universe…. that is where I’m from too. Unlit by constellations—that would mean belonging—to be be part of a named phenomenon like the Big Dipper.)

I am a big dipper—dipping my wounds in cleaned- up lakes
But I prefer not to shine.
shining makes me cry.


by Robin Skelhorn

*(Translation of Claudian’s ‘Rape of Proserpine’ 5,6 from The Poems of Tennyson edited by Christopher Ricks Longman/Norton 1969)




She stood there—simply stood,

with rounded belly and flowering jade shooting from her breasts.

Her head was fallen back, out of sight, but there—

And I felt that her mind was clear and her eyes were focused on a straighter path than any I had seen before.

She was holding something—not in her arms, which hung calmly at her sides, but in her capacity, in her round, fierce-eyed, musical, womanly love.

Nature, people, animals….no…it was more than that.  And simpler.

She held compassion in her capacity

as though she were a pure vessel for it.

The sun moved and her head came forward.

Her long hair of golden willow boughs blew around her, tangled, outrageous—unconcerned.

I feel as though I love and understand her. I admire her natural strength to hold such a giving boundary—although, in truth, she is a temporary encounter of light and wind playing across the jade plant on the crate marked N.S. 12-231/639 60 CARTRIDGES Toronto 12/70 6  2.75 MADE IN POLAND   FAM  C.W., beneath my window.

This Goddess, very real, very felt, has clothed my heart in vibrant green and

I am changed by her.

She shows me how to keep a dignified bearing in the throes of rebirth.

How to stand strong with clear eyes and wild hair, head thrown back, knowing what lies ahead, yet—it would appear, now that she has picked up a sword or a staff from the shadows—not fearing my own transience.

It occurs to me that if she laughs, and I believe she must have a great sense of humour, the sound would be guttural not sweet—a joyous, belly quivering roar like the bass notes of a singing bowl.

The sun moves  and she expands beyond her capacity; she exudes beyond the confines of her form.  She is unafraid! She stands Naked and Radiating and Changing—In plain View—And she is unafraid!

She is a visiting shadow on the faded yellow wall of my room—yet she is more alive than I.

by Robin Skelhorn


“The Joy of Africa” painting by L.S.



SNOW!  Beautiful, trilling, chilling, soft, and mysterious as a young girl keeping silent behind half-closed eyes SNOW—has come riding in on a wind horse to cover the bones of the yard with a cleansing cloak.

New Dignity.

Some enchantment woven by long white fingers—a  winter spider plucking on strings behind the scenes, a white widow drawing down her veil (over our eyes, not her own), luring us out of our homes and into the world she creates.

The untroubled purity of the drifting snow, and the silence that holds the promise of great adventure will fill us with a strange longing—this she knows.  And she waits, her cold heart pumping with the slow desire to wrap us in her web of white serenity until we can no longer feel our fingers!

It is the end before the beginning.

Yet…it is a laughing world of —so many birds!

The mourning doves come first.  One sits on the Poplar branch with cheeks puffed, holding her breath against the wind she believes would steal it to fuel it’s own happy rampage, leaving her frozen and flat.

Then come the starlings, their beaks already yellow, a premonition of spring.

Then a streak of red—a cardinal, followed by the bossy blue of a king of the yard jay.

A pair of black babies! Too young to have all their markings—but grackles, I think

And one white bellied, black capped chickadee that makes me smile just to see it.

Such colour, energy, and springtime life against the cold blur of snow covered sticks.

Little snowflakes play like excited children on their way down to—where do they think they are going? A party?

A Winter Ball?  (The unexpected splendour of feathered gowns on soaring birds may have given them that idea.)

In the end it will be more like a family reunion, where they will lay under the coat pile, while the grownups—the aunts, the uncles and cousins eat and drink and talk and laugh and do the setting up and serving up and washing up—quickened by the shared blood coursing through them, filling them with an inhaling sense of belonging and an exhaling need to distinguish themselves in some way.

A  bolt of red  across the white,  a cardinal dives into the dark world of the inner-hedge.  (I feel the secret delicious feeling of a child on a snow day—moving forward, holding back—a little shy, but proud because I know I am a part of this world, and it of me, and we are magic today.)

Ha.  A brown leaf, eaten by cold and foraging birds into the shape of a butterfly, clings to the very tip of an Oak branch.

How fragile it looks

with the wind whipping through it (a little callously)—would  it were a butterfly safe in some cocoon anticipating a spring resurrection—but it will never fly—nor will it let go.

I watch the little snowflakes beckoned down by an insistent mother to their final resting place—how  cheerful they are.

I wonder…would I rather be a leaf holding my own against a careless wind? Or a cheerful snowflake in the very awake wake of my final hurrah?  Or a bird soaring about in winter’s cage? Or a squirrel, nosing the frozen ground, trying to remember where I hid my acorn stash?  Or me watching behind the glass with all the bills to pay?

Today I would choose snow.

To waltz with the wind in breathless unheeding—all of us together: Me, the wind, the others, the torn leaf, the creaking limbs of  the old Oak, the feathers—the  red the blue the black—all of us led by the deep, lulling, silent symphony of Winter.

Oh yes.

Today I would be snow.


by Robin Skelhorn


photo by Brian Skelhorn

photo by Brian Skelhorn


It’s a stickland out there.

Winter scraggles and impromtu sculptures

Old bones curling stiff

and twisted in strange twists (or trysts with strangers)

Rigamortis sculptures,

their starkness against the morning sky

softened by leavish things.

Their toes curling, pulling back, retreating from the cold, slapping hand of Winter.

Not reaching,

Not thrusting forward—as they would into the mothering arms of Spring.

A woman would push past the withering

and colour outside the lines of her lips

(a little bewildered at the shrinkage)

but determined to face the world with the warm fullness

that beauty demands

looking in her mirror ever afterwards

with glazed eyes to soften the effect.

The thinning hair of the Willow hag falls toward the ground

hanging in strings from her bowed head—

I can almost hear her toothless snores.

Rabbit and squirrel tracks mar the snow.

Everything looks used and almost greasy

The sun shines bright in the South East

like the one eye of the Willow hag,

open, ever-watching, even as she sleeps.

A mourning dove sits alone on the flexed arm of the Oak, thinking her own thoughts—

while three baby squirrels, two black, and one grey, chase each other in a winding game, up and down and around the trunks of the split Oak—in  a kind of rambunctious oblivion,—flipping their tails at the conservative winterly stillness.

They were probably too much for their own mother, sweeping acorn caps from their nest until, in a fit of squirrelish exasperation and amidst a stream of motherish chatter, she finally swept them all out to play in the snow.

I realize in an overwhelm of sudden—realization—that I am lonesome for snow suits and rosy cheeks and lost mittens and incessant demands and little cold hands.

I sit by my window

in my empty nest

remembering—and uninterrupted

feeling a little lost

…a writer without a pencil.


by Robin Skelhorn


I look out my window to see who is at the seed pile today.

A black squirrel with snow on his nose is shelling sunflower seeds at warp speed.  Suddenly he turns and scampers toward the poplar tree—only he stops after the first scamp and with all his fur on edge, he listens.

Something is holding him there, between seed pile and tree—as though he is dreaming and finds it hard to move.  I see a glaze in the air around him and a yellow claw from Death’s brown cloak descending…

His eyes are shooting sideways rays  as he waits for the unknown to enter his line of sight and name itself.  He seems unwilling to turn his head and appear to be looking over his shoulder (like a woman walking down a deserted street at night).

I look around on his behalf—


there is nothing there.

He throws himself at the  trunk of the poplar and hangs for a moment— like a child who has wrapped himself around a parent, with improbable strength, and is refusing to get on the school bus.

I watch him curl up on a branch and hide beneath his tail—all the while listening, quivering, watching, waiting….

For what?

There is no one else in the yard.  Not  dove,  not dog,  nor chickadee.

It makes me wonder if he’s tuned into realms unseen by my human eyes, and if maybe a troll hasn’t come thrumping round the corner from the back of the yard?

And is standing right before me, brandishing a stick—or an entire tree trunk for that matter—and is  stealing sunflower seeds and spitting the shells at the poor squirrel, who is using his ratty tail as a shield?

What trollish obscenities might he be spewing beyond the radar of my human ears?

Whatever he may be doing or spewing, this troll  is completely disturbing the peace of the yard.

I should do something.

I believe I can almost see him, almost hear him now….

Dare I holler out the window?

What should I say?

“Be gone you troll! You are scaring the birds and freaking out the little black squirrel!”


A woman walks by with her dog.


I’ve lost my nerve and now I’ll never know his thrumping reply.



From The Seedpile

by Robin Skelhorn