Tim Skeen

Chowder

The word professional movers use
for the leftover doodads that do not find
a place in bags or boxes or trunks
like my mother’s Christmas rugs she kept
year-round on the kitchen floor,
the woven Currier and Ives Santa that caught
her head when she died in front of the stove,
chowder, the objects I tell my daughter
to be smart about and get rid of now before
it will hurt more to keep than to throw them away,
the bright rugs, coffee mugs, photos of hugs—
chowder is the reason I say Hold onto nothing
when she draws our home for art class
and what I tell myself when she says I love you.

The Body Plural

My arms and back work the paddle.
The canoe seems motionless on the river.

Some bored farm boy
on a 1913 steel Canton Bridge

stops shooting his .22 at a piece
of wood as I glide near.

A rope swing hangs from a cottonwood branch
over the Niobrara

straight as an old-fashioned
plumb bob.

Author Portrait

Tim Skeen is the 2001 winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry for his book Kentucky Swami. He coordinates the MFA Program in Creative Writing at California State University, Fresno. A graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, his poems appear in many magazines and journals. He lives in Fresno with his wife, Pam, and daughter, Iris.