Tag Archives: Savannah Skinner

Savannah Skinner

A Guide to Recognizing Your Ghost

The night you ascended

the stairs with our wet clothes clutched to your chest,

we saw the ghost your mother saw

when she decided you were missing.

When I was outside your window, you said you recognized me

by the back of my neck, said you knew

the days were over when your father untied his boots

at night.           I tell you whole truths after you fall asleep

in the hallway & know you can’t hear

my voice over radio static, whole truths

I can’t tell you while your eyes are open.

When we drove past the mural they painted over

last year in red, I told you I was recreating

the first sounds you ever heard outside

your mother’s oceanic deafness: your father’s

Darth Vader impression, his muffled voice

whispering I am your father       your mother’s voice whispering

I still feel you like a phantom limb       your sisters rustling

in the dark of the house.       I watched your father disappear

into the barn, but that was three years ago;

now your house is full-up with people I’ve never met,

a baby you’ve never held (but write lullabies for in summer

when it’s cool enough to sing),

dogs who watch me from the porch steps

& curl up on your mattress while you’re away, until

you’ve been gone so long they can’t remember the way you smell.

<< Cannon Fodder 
i am the stone >>

Savannah Skinner is (perpetually) a senior history and English (creative writing) double major at SUNY Geneseo. She hails from Franklinville, NY, a town in the Southern Tier that actually boasts one stoplight. Savannah lived the first two decades of her life without ever trying a cherry, and aspires to never go to Olive Garden.

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Savannah Skinner


After thunderstorm; we parked to watch

the sunset pink. It smelled of lilacs,

clouds, factory steam from across town:

one-way streets somewhere beneath.

Smack mosquito bites with an open palm

to stop the swelling—behind his ear,

a salt lick. Sweat, two-day-old shampoo.

I named trees after his lips; my fear of them.

My shivered legs, damp with déjà vu:

kissing in this place before, the sunset

more orange, cheekbones still inside his skin.

His hands more or less the same, maybe

new scars on fingers. They spoke like bees;

with dancing. I am graceless—still digging

the same freckle out of my palm. We rubbed

our shoulder blades together to hear them

hum like glass-wings. Valley sounds; spring

peepers, sirens heading somewhere south.

<< 1 poem by Christian Wessels

Savannah Skinner is a senior at SUNY Geneseo. She has answered this question multiple times, and is accruing a lot of fictional best friends. She’d probably choose someone who doesn’t seem like the jealous type. Charlie Bucket, perhaps, due to his generosity and his lifetime supply of Wonka candy.

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Savannah Skinner

twenty-seven negatives: the disposable camera I forgot on your kitchen counter

I. Your house from the highway, coming up in stone;

II. the underpass where I wait for you—

III. the baseball diamond where you wait for me.


IV. Your house from the couch in the barn,

V. the couch in the barn; your boots over the arm.

VI. Dusty air, slat-sided sun: stretch marks in the crook of your elbow.


VII. Us in the graveyard; mausoleum against the sunset,

VIII. me on a swing at the playground against the sunset,

IX. sunset through the walls of our abandoned house.


X. Our abandoned house: tin cans, two sets of stairs,

XI. disassembled chimney (I took some home for stove bricks).

XII. Me leaning against the industrial stove in your kitchen


XIII. with ice on my mouth; me with a fat lip, your strawberry-stain lips,

XIV. morning lips: swollen. Black & white—ice cubes half-melted

XV. in your cupped hands. Skittles, pseudoephedrine.


XVI. You wearing my shorts: the closet door

XVII. in his old bedroom—blank walls, a digital scale,

XVIII. suggestion of a ghost in his old bedroom—


XIX. orb of a ghost in the mirror at the caved-in house.

XX. Back door of your apartment taken from

XXI. the high school track; my sister’s steeplechase


XXII. records; plastic-wrapped in a particle board

XXIII. cabinet, your kitchen from the perspective of

XXIV. Maddie-dog. Maddie-dog from the perspective of


XXV. the porch bench, your head on a pillow in my lap:

XXVI. wisdom teeth post-op. Vicodin, red Jell-o

XXVII. at the tip of your Novocaine-tongue: my blue-veined wrist.


Savannah Skinner is a senior at SUNY Geneseo. She has answered this question multiple times, and is accruing a lot of fictional best friends. She’d probably choose someone who doesn’t seem like the jealous type. Charlie Bucket, perhaps, due to his generosity and his lifetime supply of Wonka candy.

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Savannah Skinner


a twist of nicked blade

weighty in palm, quick

& bloody lush of trash-fish

spilt over wet shale:

these delineations of membrane,

of silica spine—sunlit copper

& glint of intestines in miniature.

curiosity in its realization

gains a new layer of nausea,

whispers isn’t it lonely to be god?

how licks from the dull knife

carve in us a deliberate fear.

Our Disillusion in Three Acts


examine the ordinary

girl: bluing collar,

her hackneyed legs,

wrists a repertoire

of exotic knots—

tethered bird in hand.

are you watching closely?


you subtle shill,

sleight of claw

or nape of neck: clutch

the delicate tarsus.

sternum as trick lock,

heart as vanishing

cage. slip a canary

down my throat,

her punctured lung

up your sleeve


& reveal another from the mouth.

amidst the beat of wings,

canary in the crook grows cold.

Savannah Skinner is a sort-of-senior at SUNY Geneseo. She studies history and creative writing. This is Savannah’s second publication in Gandy Dancer. If she were to befriend a fictional character, it would be Arrietty Clock, in the hopes that together they could borrow many small, shiny things.

 1 poem by Michele Lynn Pawlak  >>


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Savannah Skinner

On the Ovarian Nature of the Mouth

There are little match girls striking the insides of all our ovaries.
Organs enamel & disintegrate in the sink like baby teeth
umbilical inside our skulls—digest us through an awakening
cathedraled & façaded,
a peristalsis like marbled malá strana.

Hips—the narrowness now waxing—rise so lethargic
from the damp menarche: ulcer a space as solemn.
We pendulum from doorknobs & clot drains with vacancies of incoming molars.

Down the hall, my sister’s mouth brims with cotton fields.

A young boy’s cuspids crown between her jawbones & they’re just bodies
inside bodies inside themselves:
a matryoshka so skeletal, a cavity
so filled & swollen.

O, how our thighs have gaped for them, as if curtains made windows
any less transparent. Rib cages replicate
& nest further within our chests.

We anticipate the hollows of bras to see
if all our areolas swell like first kisses
in some other family’s basement.
Like mouths inside other mouths.

Molars give way to more molars & molt—
removal as an expansion
of the borders of the body. Rust rings

in the satin & ceramic of the little coffins where
my mother cherishes our eyeteeth:

still-fleshed extractions strung up for thirteenth birthdays.
Our ovaries are mimicry, fresh-gummed & released.
As if organs incubating teeth were any less horrific.

On the Places We Have Lived, with Children Not Quite Born

Lust through doors & vibrate screens like humming paper nests.
Say you don’t believe in ghosts
of a before-life
though the bedskirts rustle, & I
have smelled you burning
sage beneath the windows. This is an old house
with no refrigerator
& we can hear them laughing in empty bedrooms.

Imagine life before kitchen cabinets:
My father chewing
jars of pig knuckles, brined & coaxed

sardines between his blunt teeth:
five sisters learning to honeycomb
the anatomy of the absorbed twin
sized beds where we slept—

I emerge from the mouths
of my sisters & become incarnations of all our mothers
: un-fossilization of a firstborn, crowning

of the wasp queen. A father marrows
in your baluster spine—waiting
& your ulnas, they vellum—filmy
as the pregnancy of radiator air,                of me:
Crystallize a hive in my abdomen
& I’ll fill the cavities of my sister’s molars.

You were the wasps living in our walls,
a welcome stinging—
a harvest of clover & carrion:
my ovaries staining the hardwood with a
we’ve been waiting for you.

Savannah Skinner is a student at SUNY Geneseo, and is probably a junior, but maybe a senior. She is currently studying English (Creative Writing) and European History, among other things. She declines to pinpoint her origins beyond “near Buffalo… sort of.” Were Savannah to befriend a fictional character, she hopes that it would be Piglet, an agreeable pal who would also fit nicely into a compact space.

<< 1 poem by Joseph O'Connor                              1 poem by Simeon Youngmann >>

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