Readings — From the November 2016 issue

Red Desert (Antonioni, 1964)

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By Ed Skoog, from Run the Red Lights, which was published this month by Copper Canyon Press. Skoog is the author of two previous collections of poetry, including Rough Day (2013).

Evening is the stalk
little skulls bloom on
while canyons recede
into the garden corners.
My son asks for songs,
not stories. Song! he demands.
Or if I start a song, Story!
And we circle in this way,
solving whatever the two
hold in secret compromise
and you might think sleep
is where they escape or where
languages are whole again
like the figure that steps out
of your shadow back into
your undershirt. I don’t know
what to look at says Monica Vitti.
But if we had a red shed
then we could get a ship in the mist,
if we had a ship in the mist,
they’d let a robot watch us sleep
if we slept, I say if we slept
I can’t sleep. I say I can’t sleep
streets laid out as they are
streets buried and buried,
not with this shop key in my waistband
yellow smoke shining above the factory
then we see each other as we are
and will not be born any further.

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