The Crack in My Skull

Poems by Tim Van Schmidt

Worker Ant

Nudge. Climb. Push. Crawl.
Blank-headed, moving sticks
For eyes, each leg lifts and digs
In halting train car rhythms.
Carry a ten-times heavy load,
Stuff it in a hole then exit.
In and out. Roving the landscape
Of crumbling cement, wide
Leaves of grass. Avoid the
Centipede. Step all over
The carcass. Pick. Pinch.
Retreat when the evening cool
Slows the blood to dry mud.
Find a moment deep
In the ground. Stand. Wait.
The next day roils within
Hard, polished skin.


I dream
Of a wide watery valley
From the foot of a cliff.
Sparkling clear water
Cool and smooth
Over strange coral reefs.
The water laps gently
Onto damp sand
And rock itself
Flows with water.

I hear horses,
Begin to fly,
Skim the air,
Over the water.

The room
Comes into focus
By little.
And my wife
Runs beside me
On a beach
In our bed.

The Garden at Sunset

The needle of the impending night
Pricked the orange yolk of the sun.
It dripped yellow and red
And the flowers’ plastic skin
Gathered the sunset like polish.
The metal husk of a steel black beetle
Lurched under a skyscraper of green
And a kite with gray moth wings
Churned back and forth
In the web of trees
Above a burning light.
The worms oozed through the dark, wet caverns.
A small stream of house plumbing
Splashed and raged over the bald pebble heads.
The darkness approached,
The indistinguishable rider
On a jet, moonlit horse.

God Sitting on a Rock

I will name this valley after the moose
And deer shall be the handmaidens.
My breath, the breezes, will scatter grass
And my eye, the sun, blazes around
Edges of cloud. It makes day
Different from the cool night
Waiting in my spinning mind.
Color burns and life
Pushes beyond the seed. Pleased,
I accept the granite’s solid rest.
My head becomes the shape of slopes,
My feet balanced on the soft floor
Stretching toward an interrupted horizon.
This is my pleasure- to admire
All that I dream, to name
All that I claim. I get up. I move on
To the next glacial divide.
I give it to the bear
Kissed by the gentle moth.

Speaking for Rock

See the backbone of rock,
Empty bowls
Carved into the back,
Stars burned into skin.
Lichen hides the rock eyes
But they dry up and blow away.
Desire to sit like rock,
Disregard the whipped wind.
Collect sunshine and
Store it in your cold heart.
May your ribs be as strong,
Stone braced against time.
May your voice be as deep
And as void of sound:
Thoughts do not matter,
Opinions are only sand.

Desert Blooms

If you look across
This wrinkled wasteland,
You’ll see the delicate spray
Of desert blooms-
Long purple marks,
Bubbles of yellow, red dashes.
I’ve painted my face
With miles of bright carpet-
Orange, fluorescent green
Radiating in morning sun.
It’s become a part of my skin,
The finest tattoo: flowers
Lying low on my cheeks,
In folded, scrub-brushed land.


I am the windmill
Slowly churning
In the wide golden grasslands.
I am the rock chimney
That has lost its house.
It’s my lonely road
That peels from the highway,
Winds over a hill
And disappears.
That’s not my herd of thick, slow bovine.
It’s not my city on the horizon.
I have two legs but one face and
A single card to play
To win, standing in
My one long moment
In the breeze.


Like the water ignoring the rock
I will be set free.
Like the grass, gray, lying down,
The petals purple and yellow
Drooping from the stem
I will find sleep.
But shoes dig into sliding stones,
Hand reaches for fresh branch
Before being pulled to the bottom
Of nothing. Not yet,
The emotionless spirit is slapped,
Sent to the gravel, the biting fly.
Not now, the moose does not attack,
The body does not topple
Like the tree with the eaten roots.

Somewhere Else

I have bought a ticket
To the savanna
And I will ride the giraffe
Like we are cousins.
I will step from the north
Where the slow pines whisper:
There is always somewhere else
Where there is quiet,
Where sun melts into the skin,
The nights
Are clear and warm.

The Crack in My Skull

There is a crack in my skull
And from it seep the words that roll down my neck,
Trickle down my arm and drip onto paper.
The strangest beasts, huge cows with chicken heads,
Minotaurs glowing pink and green, peek out from the crack.
Long vines of exotic flowers want to tumble down
And gusts of warm island breezes are impatient to pour forth.
But no, you keep your finger to your lips. Shhhh.
So I make nice, gentle poems
and look way back to the crowd
that lines the door to my brain.