A Natural History: Ed Skoog


A Natural History of My Mishearing

Text and art by Ed Skoog



fig. 1


When we swept it out I found a candid photo of a rat, and in a small

crowd at morning call, where the bench we sat on, after leaving the

shelter, has been replaced with plastic chairs, I tell the current

residents about the morning I walked down the valley road like some

out-of-body Scrabble, and starlings in the persimmon tree lost the

truth, maybe in the garage, like the space applause opens, a middle

way, and once (I say) I have the cardinal trapped, the blacking around

its buff beak holds its vermouth in another room reverberating fire in

hazel mills, feathers out and becomes a shroud, like in the video you

emailed of your barbecue: animal in tremendous supply, so that either

the business about the scarf in cadence, like an oily rag burning,

troubles the beach memoir, or your arm shudders the calm line of wet

paint although you haven’t showered and still smell sweat of the

farewell where you and I were loyal to behold, and still surge forward

in my telling, replacing the spectacular with sad monetary blackout,

until the water glider makes no stirring, until the many bridges that

cross the Kaw redden without dismantling, while nearby the moth is a

self-portrait of a cocktail mixer, and if so, forgive us, this is our

first time out since the baby I am becoming physically unable to see

inside the thought of the shroud, the way bottles are like the ghosts

of distant friends and eat raw the lead mockery at the outsetting

morning light in the airfields at breakfast, like woodwork at the

library, any other questions can be addressed while we chase after the

convertible at closing time, causing harm that seems like a cover

version of harm, so one must ask what kind of debased creature could

turn like this, could tie your hand, even when we had the afternoon

off so we went to the zoo, across the floating bridge from the

software company, and nothing mattered anymore, because they around

you die and thanks for saving us from guessing and history, or so I

hear in the dipthong between one shape and the next, but even if I let

the girl punch me in the nose with a puppet and we go riding across

the low broom and rag hills, concordant with the general meanness of

the evening, we’re just a bunch of kids trying to climb a tree

super fast, raspberry and juniper, and if, after they put the new

carpet down, any wall needs painting, I will lean in to hand you

a meaningful brush.


fig. 2

fig. 2


fig. 3

fig. 3


fig. 4

fig. 4


fig. 5

fig. 5


fig. 6

fig. 6


Ed Skoog’s first book, Mister Skylight, was published by Copper Canyon
Press in 2009. As he was pulling into the sunny parking lot, he drew
harsh criticism for this Mao comments. “What was once fun,” he said,
“is now exactly what it’s like.”



“A Natural History of My Mishearing” is part of the Natural Histories Project. Click here to learn more >>

You can find out more about Ed Skoog at his website and the blog Ward Six.

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