3 Poems by /Merna Dyer Skinner

CLOCKING TIME                                                                                                                                

O, to climb inside a clock!

To slip between the gears—

interrupt the click click ticking—

prevent my bones from grinding to dust.

Grandfather’s clock tocks in Sweden—

the rhythm of Viking oars,

lifting, dropping—clacking

like the clash of ancestor’s swords.

Standing watch, moon’s flat face turns,

turns its painted forehead of sky and stars—

cold metal eyes, blind to light and shade,

—never blink, encased in wormwood casket.

These regimented ticks taunt my sleep,

—my dreaming fingers claw at the case.

One day—time will swallow me.


Perhaps a glint of sun blinds you,

Or we are laughing too hard

To notice that slim moment

Our convertible soars into a Dali landscape—         

Caribbean-blue stretch of barren beach canvas.

My Hermes scarf catches in the draft,

Rises like a parachute. Bits of pink

Bermuda bijoux drift away on the wind.

In the distance, O’Keeffe paints purple iris centerfolds.

In the backseat, a blender whirs, mixing mango and rum.

I lick away the sticky sweetness. On the horizon

Dali’s brush bends our car—molten metal

Slung over a cloud—he signs his name, scrawls

In the grit: Monument To Reckless Abandon


I’ll climb out of the room when you stop obsessing over words—

your clattering keys disturbing my thoughts.

I’ll leave you alone, if you let loose your dead grandmother—

a sugar cube would never melt on her tongue, sweet

though, her Quaker prayers—choked from her throat

as Puritans strung her up. Overnight,

fireflies crawled over her open eyes, slipped up her nose.

I know these things, though I was never lynched.

If you sent her a postcard from the future,

would she care to know you? To see how her sacrifice

inspires your insipid verse? If you want to honor her, go

clean the scat atop her statue – near the State House steps—

Pigeons don’t care that she died for a cause. 

Yet, here you are, searching for lost words

of vanished souls. Tapping, typing, printing, writing—

You risk my wrath if you persist.

You risk your very life, for I could smother you now

with the breath of the dead. You may seek the spotlight

to shine on your ancestor’s martyrdom, but what I want

is a good night’s rest. Even the dead desire peace and quiet—

so stop typing. Close your eyes, I will climb off the bed

and leave you to rest, let you escape my anger, my black revenge

in the dead of night. You may think my visit a miracle;

I tell you it is a warning. There are others, outside—

together, yet alone, each wanting nothing more

than for your lips to close, your hands to fold, your mind to cease,

to sleep. You may think that picking up that pen

to handwrite your pestering poetry will fool me into leaving—

bring my haunting to an end—

You are the fool. Even swallows know, safe refuge

in a sooty chimney eventually gives way

to their overwhelming desire to fly. 

You are my prey, I am your threat.

I will devour your face if you don’t let me rest.

Merna Dyer Skinner’s poetry appears in Finishing Line Press’ 2016 chapbook, A Brief History of Two Aprons, a few literary journals including: MiPOesias, Mojave River Review, Silver Birch Press, Star 82 Review, and two anthologies. She is an alumna of the Kenyon Review Poetry Workshop, Tupelo Press Workshop, and Community of Writers. She holds an MA in Communication Studies from Emerson College. She’s lived in six U.S. states, and traveled to five continents.


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