Carnival Knowledge

Around and Around

She is a carnival of lights
her hair a yellow tilt-a-whirl,
her eyes a house of mirrors,
and the air around her swirls
with the dizzy promise of prizes.

So I joined her crazy games,
my skill against her rigged devices:
blunted darts which wobble askew,
bottles defiant of my mighty arm,
and rings too wide to wiggle home.

Finally I stood with pockets defrauded,
in the mirth of prizes unclaimed,
and turned my back on that mocking cacophony–
only to find I was alone in an empty lot
littered with kernels of my dreams.

© Brad Skiff


Dark Spoils


Breathe the night that lights your eyes with stars,
for the dreams sequestered in those dark hollows
long for nova. New worlds, swift to the burgeoning
edge, hold for your unspoken hopes, boiling holes
in our universe. Dark spoils hide in every heart,
and every sacred breath that’s held must be released.

Breathe the night that lights your eyes with stars,
for dreams can never birth themselves.

© Brad Skiff


House in the Field

This is the reverse angle of a homestead near Waterville, Washington (one of my earliest posts was “In a field of wheat,” which shows this structure in infrared from the opposite side. (You can see it here).

I drove by this place not long ago and noticed it is starting to lean. Not many more winters ahead for this fellow, I imagine…

©Brad Skiff


Stone and Shadow

On a log above the chafing tides, I met a worn stone resting in the sun. Only a foot or so of sand spared his perch from the encroaching waves, so I sat briefly with my new friend.

“How did you come to this place?” I enquired.

“Before you, there was another,” he replied. “She set me gently on this spot, a kind act with a cruel shadow, and now I rest ensconced in the sunset.”

“Isn’t this a pleasant pause? Hasn’t the surf refined you enough?” I asked.

“Do you see my flaw, that gap upon my curve? It’s well-worn, I grant you, but if you allow me further reprieve, I shall remain the same. However, if you commit me to the certainty of the surf, perhaps the churning stones below will wear my blemish away.”

My head drooped, and I could feel the sand shifting beneath us. I thought of my own flaws, then scooped up my friend and tossed him into the receiving foam. With wisdom beyond my fathom, he settled into his jumbled routine, and I, well I walked away from those crashing tumblers and wondered why I feared them so.

©Brad Skiff


The school year is almost over, and tempers are as short as the remaining days. I do not wish to conflate education and gun violence, that is not the point of this image. Rather, this photograph of an armored bank car window is a metaphor for my psyche this time of year. Teaching is unlike any other profession I’ve experienced, and I worked in that big old “real world” for many years before choosing to stand in front of 120+ teenagers each day. Minute-by-minute, over-produced dramas, disappointments, and never-ending demands take their toll. But, with some rest, those filimented cracks heal, and the lager gouges slowly fill back in…mostly…

bullet proof

©Brad Skiff



Yeah, it’s a nerdy thing to do.

Last weekend was the Renaissance Faire at the Chelan County Fair Grounds. I take my son every year, and it’s always the same. Quaint tents full of homemade wares, oddly mixed with dollar-store quality items, line each side of the avenue; axe throwing and various Nordic activities abound; and, of course, there’s the world-famous gauntlet of badly spoken Shakespearean English to navigate.

Oh, and there’s jousting. Each year I bring my camera in hopes of catching a memorable shot. Here’s one of my favorite photos from a couple of years ago.


© Brad Skiff


Ghosts on a page


This is a strand of ivy climbing a power junction box outside my school. It has been cut back many times before, leaving echoes of it’s former efforts. In my mind, this is a perfect visual for the writing process.

Currently I am on the third rewrite of an 80 page short story. My initial draft seemed so vibrant as it flowed through my fingers, but so deficient upon first read. Now my writing folder echoes with many aborted efforts, ghosts of inspired lines and neon characters faded into melancholic gray.

I’m tempted to give up. Entirely new inspirations clamor in my ear for their time on the page, but I cannot ignore one important dictum about writing, a nettlesome little thought, really, which denies me the solace of new beginnings. Much like this strand of lone ivy sliding upward in defiance of outside forces, I write. And writers don’t quit because they lose inspiration. They quit, my friends, because they lose belief.