The Second Course

by David Sklar

Grackles gather in the trees to feast on dreams
but the chef is out sick,
and the menu is filled with regrets.
I bring them
public nudity as an apertif.
A salad, undressed.
They’re fine. For now.

But when they call for their main course?
What then? If they order
visit with dead father, and I bring them
things I should have said?
It just won’t do.

     I should

never have taken this job, to wait on
birds who will not wait. A dream of flying

is flavorless to a bird. I bring
a cold, uncertain soup. I see

a path among the trees, but as I
walk toward the woods, my feet
walk up through the air like a ramp.

     I under-

stand, in a lucid moment,
what’s happening here:

you think you know,

then suddenly you don’t.

He’s good, this visiting chef.


David Sklar lives in a cliffside cottage in northern New Jersey, and almost supports his family as a medical editor. A Rhysling nominee and past winner of the Julia Moore Award for Bad Verse, he has more than 100 published works, including poetry in Ladybug, Wormwood Review, and Paterson Literary Review; fiction in Nightmare and Strange Horizons; and humor in Knights of The Dinner Table and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Find David online at, and his intertextual cartoon Poetry Crisis Line at