[Issue 10 / August 2014]

When you thirst for a beauty
richly bred, heady with cream,
brought to the vestibule, taken

by a butler into the kitchen
where maids and chefs in white,
labor over flour and almond paste—

when you hunger for a life lived
on the backs of the poor—
remember to shake out these blooms.

Black ants colonize each blossom,
crawling beneath fine crinolines.
They fall, little stitches,

down to a cherry table
set for twelve. Then they travel
hand to cuff to sleeve

where the itch to be well-heeled
begins, and the desire
for more of this or that burns.


Judith Skillman is the author of fourteen collections of poetry. Her latest book is Broken Lines—The Art & Craft of Poetry, Lummox Press. Poems have appeared in FIELD, Midwest Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, First Water—The Best of Pirene’s Fountain, and other journals and anthologies. Skillman is the recipient of grants from the Academy of American Poets, the Washington State Arts Commission, the Centrum Foundation, King County Arts Commission, and the Jack Straw Foundation. She has taught at University of Phoenix, City University, Richard Hugo House, and elsewhere. Visit judithskillman.com