poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 10, 2016.
About this Poem 

“It’s hard to say where this poem came from. It’s part memory, sure, but reading it back now, it also feels a bit like an incantation. Perhaps I wanted it to act like a sort of poetic-charm and invite the reader to become one of the boys I went to school with, went to the shed with, so that we would remember together what happened there. But then again perhaps poetry is just as slippery as trauma.”
—Richard Scott

dem bones

for a bottle of red
a coat hanger
the school gardener
would make us boys a
skeleton out of
that coat hanger
working with pliers
a bunsen burner he
bent metal round
around through gave
wire ribs a pelvis a
skull it was a game
the shed was hot
you had to unlink
his thigh-bones to
make him dance he
burnt your fingers
the gardener took off his
vest remember the
smell of black-orange
metal he gave you a
mug of warm wine 
how does a skeleton
dance anyway you
could feel the pliers
on your thigh-bones
the bunsen’s flame
do you still play his game
boys have you seen
metal glow brighter
since those shed-days

Copyright © 2016 by Richard Scott. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Richard Scott. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Richard Scott

Richard Scott

Richard Scott is the author of Wound (The Rialto, 2016).