John Skoyles

Coal Bin
June 9, 2013 Skoyles John

Coal Bin


Some witchy and slinky,

ready to coo on a pillow,


others nun-like, eyes open

with the wonder of a startled


sleepwalker—all bluntly bare.

My uncle stashed his harem


of goddess statues

in our coal bin


where I caught him

at the casement,


turning his bronze minxes

and virgins this way


and that, as innocent

as the slow boy next door


who spun a huge top

by a string above his lap


as he sang the hymn

about shepherds and sheep


on that street that was less

pasture and more tray


of ashes stubbed out

by the hand of the lord.

John Skoyles’ most recent book is Yes and No (Carnegie-Mellon, 2021).  He is the poetry editor of Ploughshares.