In the Presence of Ghosts


Reference West, 1993. ISBN: 1-895362-19-9 5.5 X 8.5 24 pp $10, regular edition. $20 for one of 10 hand-sewn copies.

CD available.

Bookman reviews2

“It is strange to be made into a myth while I’m still alive!” Robin Skelton

bookman excerpts2


Ezra bounded down,
animated, long-legged,
from rock to rock,
through all the stunted grasses,
the tiny, fiery flowers,
excited, like Pan,
down from the steep,
shale slopes,
above the Aegean,
the sea stretching, below him,
like the sky.

I likd the way the Tyds came IN
over the strEEtz
in VENice. The fissh
usedta flUtr silvR n bluewww
ovr th coBBlz

SwimmM rite pAst yu
syu wlkd oWt. The hole siteee
smelld like th SEEE,
like ANeee miNutt th hay-iz
ws gointA LIFTT awf
n yud be staNNDing tharrr IN th mARshes,
th lite ovR yu like yu cd TUch it.

Robin had his head in his lap,
pulling golden straws
of grass out of his beard. As if each
was a red-hot piece
of wire, he brushed
them off quickly onto the ground.
They faded slowly; a whole scattered field
of thin flames around him
in various stages of decay,
a deep, detailed,
downward movement.

“Of course you can touch the light.”

Yuv got yr HAnds back AWn!
Ezra plunked himself down and took one
of Robin’s hands in his. HauughH!

“Why do you always get to be the straight man?”
Robin spread his fingers wide:
each one was a sow’s bristle brush.
He fanned them out likkkke a peacock’s tail,
slowly, there before him.

“You seen any paint here?”

Paynnnt? Payynnnnttt?
Ezra reached into his pocket
and drew up a crusty rind of bread.
Wall, Naw, but TharZ THIS. He held it out to Robin softly.
Here I cnt YOOS this anYMOWER.
Yu still can. U miteaswell tay-ik it.
Robin’s eyes rolled up, to look at him.
Ezra bent down and thrust the crust forward. HERE.

“Sure could use some paint.” Robin brushed the bread away
and dipped his right forefinger into his mouth.
When he pulled it out it was vermillion.
He stuck in his thumb, and pulled it out&emdash;cadmium white:
like a feather on the edge of his hand.
He began to brush his cheek. “Mmmmmmmm.”

Stawp thaht! Ezra slumped back.
Itz Wuhds. Jest wuds. Dars no DAMN THINNG
but wahds. I’m SICK of ttthEM naw-OH!!!!

Robin brushed the feather softly over his eyelids.
“Looks like snow to me.”
Luks lika n emptee sheat of PAY/purr!
YHu brott Any Zizzerss?
Ezra turned his pockets out.

Robin brushed the feather over his ear.
“Like goddamn Dostoevsky, you mean?”

Gawwdd!! Listennn.
Thar R thingS I still wahnnted to SAYYY
ab/t clar/ty n StrukT-chur//
abowt how yu cn string the wuhds OWT/ta
kEY-uP it from co-HEAR/entzzzz.

Robin set his head down gently
and turned his pockets out. “See.”


I seE.


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