The List

Branches shiver as if a wand

transformed them

into wands themselves,

the way our friends

become poplars

planted in their memory—

Steven Clover, Lon Scott,

Franco Palumbo,

jeweler, banker, chef.

There’s no rest from the list

that grows each morning

as we face the sun

with a cool look

like we can handle

the digging and burying,

that we don’t see every limb

on every tree

as a wing cut from flight.



John Skoyles has published four books of poems, A Little Faith; Permanent Change; Definition of the Soul and The Situation. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, Harvard Review, Slate, Yale Review and The New York Times, among others. He is also the author of two books of nonfiction,Generous Strangers, a collection of personal essays, several of which were broadcast on public radio; and a memoir, Secret Frequencies: A New York Education. His most recent book is the autobiographical novel, A Moveable Famine, about a life in poetry. He is currently Professor in the Writing, Literature and Publishing Department of Emerson College, and the poetry editor of Ploughshares.


Issue #41 November 2014
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