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Karen Skolfield

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Karen Skolfield is the author of Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 PEN/New England Award in poetry. She teaches writing at the University of Massachusetts and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

by this poet


The closer to the torso, the better.
Endangered: fingers in a point,

nosetips, every blooded sword,
the knife’s ricasso, the cupid’s bow of lips,

a Roman nose, the dog’s upturned gaze,
the placid expression, the fierce.

Toes hidden beneath sandals fare better:


Balloon, then papier mâché.
Gray paint, blue and turquoise, green,
a clouded world with fishing line attached
to an old light, original to the house, faux brass
chipping, discolored, an ugly thing. What must
the people of this planet think, the ground
knobby and dry, the oceans blue


It's right next to a Polariod booth.
The instructions say the needles are small
and barely felt. The pictures, it explains,
have nudity, but no gratuitous nudity.
Special imaging equipment considers
the color value of your own skin
and calibrates your reactions
to words shouted in