Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.


Originally posted to blockquote.org on in Chicago, Illinois

In the first months of 2006 I started letting go of the way of seeing and thinking that led me to write poems. When I lived alone in slower places I’d take long walks, turning phrases over until I liked how they sounded. At the end of 2005 I left those slower places for Chicago.

My first months in the city riled me up. I started asking the social, historical, and subjective questions that I hadn’t then considered to any great extent but that have occupied me since. The new questions relate to interpretation, authority, power, aesthetics, affect, irony. With them came the idea that prose was a sounder medium than verse for addressing them.

“Embrace” is the last poem I wrote and revised. It gives some sense of the direction my thoughts had started to take. More than that, I think it shows the mode of thinking I was giving up. From January, 2006.

When dusk detains whole days try
shaking want for warm arms. When
fog think how it doesn’t hold
you like it holds a city,
think how you interrupt them
hankering, chased to wishing
the city could embrace. Know
Chicago might oblige just
slight enough to discourage
you expecting something more.