Skew Lines by Barry Peters

Skew Lines

Ms. Warner points one arm at the ceiling,
the other at us. It’s a disturbing visual,
her disjointed wings flying different paths,

and the planes are, too: one jets toward heaven,
the other barrel-rolls over the Pacific, these being
the kinds of planes I picture in math class.

I can’t grasp this new decree, am even repelled
by the taste of the word skew. What happened
to intersecting lines and their comforting cross,

like Ms. Warner’s red Xs on my geometry tests?
Or parallel lines and their neatly packed
white space, cream filling in an oreo cookie?

Then this shocker: Miss Warner proclaims skew
lines are usual lines. Who? What? Most lines
run in those directions? Off-balance, out of kilter,

tilted like a beginner on stilts? It’s all bad
news for the boy destined to be continuity guy
on movies and TV, the man who must keep

every hair on the actors’ heads in place, the same
level of liquor in their glasses, the ash burning
on the star’s cigar for ten or twenty takes.

Real life is, alas, askew. I never will
stop the moon from moving across the sky,
stop the shadow from eclipsing your face.


Barry Peters lives in Durham and teaches in Raleigh, NC. Publications/forthcoming include The American Journal of Poetry, Best New Poets 2018, Baltimore Review, Connecticut River Review, The HitchLit Review, I-70 Review, Jelly Bucket, Miramar, Plainsongs, Poetry East, Presence, Rattle, The Rush, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Southampton Review, South 85, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sport Literate, Trailer Park Quarterly, and UCity Review.