after Montale

When he saw me coming

from stickball

swinging a broom handle,

he’d call Killer

from his chair on the stoop.

Someone’s grandfather,

a steamfitter who worked

weekends at Yankee Stadium

wiping box seats with a mitt.

Killer, he’d scrawl in the air,

calling attention to my skinny frame,

a stick carrying a stick.

When I go to hell,

I know he’ll yell Killer

from his bench among the coals,
and I’ll wave

my kindling from the flames.



John Skoyles has published four books of poems, A Little Faith; Permanent Change; Definition of the Soul, and most recently, The Situation. His work has appeared in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, Harvard Review, Slate, Yale Review and The Poetry Anthology, 1912 – 2002, among others. He teaches at Emerson College and serves as the poetry editor of Ploughshares.  The Permanent Press will publish his autobiographical novel, A Moveable Famine, in 2014.

Issue #29 November 2013
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