Karen Skolfield & Yasotha Sriharan

Please join us Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm, when poets Karen Skolfield and Yasotha Sriharan will continue the thirteenth season of the Collected Poets Series! Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)

Karen Skolfield

Karen Skolfield’s book Battle Dress (W. W. Norton, 2019) won the Barnard Women Poets Prize. Her book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry, and she is the winner of the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in poetry from The Missouri Review. Skolfield is a U.S. Army veteran and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; she’s the poet laureate of Northampton, MA for 2019-2021. http://www.karenskolfield.com

Yasotha Sriharan

Yasotha Sriharan received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College, and her M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Papua New Guinea and England before immigrating to the U.S. She writes about the countries of her childhood. She teaches and works at Springfield Technical Community College and Hampshire College.



The sound of explosives disrupts
the species memory of migration.
Young ducks huddle at the burning ponds.
They’d fly, but where? Magnetic north
a confusion in the air, tracers falling to the ground.
The horses, even the battle trained,
wheel in confusion. The simple whites of their eyes.
My sergeant called what I did with a handgun
the needless slaughter of worms. He said
Skolfield, you’re a crime against fishing.
Early in the morning,
my daughter’s hair an irregular nest.
The peeping of fledglings.
In my hands a bowl, the silverware serrated.
What springs from those hands is a bludgeon of doves.


THE SUGAR THIEF / Yasotha Sriharan
(For my brother)

Before the books on relativity and calculus
your cool desire: sugar-cane; the thousand
fields you crept into and ate your fill.

And the day you found the python
slumbering in perfect circles in a garbage can
you gave it a stump of cane and closed the lid.

Scraping the tea-colored outer surface
and stripping it away from a starch pulp center,
your fingernails catch on a fiber.

The storm-birds have always hated you,
the sugar thief, and they shriek
their madness till someone whispers

‘The Devil is near,’ and then, silence.
Remember waiting for Halley’s Comet
on a deck suspended high in case of earthquakes?

The sugar stick diminishing in your hand
as a streak separates the sky
and the neighbors are shouting, Jesus is rising.