Todd Copeland (bio)

for Karl Umlauf

The frame defines the anthology of skulls
examined from above as if through
the open hatch of a cellar come to by chance.

We kneel, lean over, and look in,
all of our lives to lose or gain.
Chiaroscurist of the afterworld,

the place of skulls is limitless.
But we see only what you’ve
brought to light, made plain,

and signed in the bottom left-hand corner
with prescience—the hoard of death’s-heads
streaked ocher and rust

unearthed from a common grave.
Below or above isn’t the issue.
The depths overhead yield equally.

Take a boy in a park on a spring day
watching his kite’s skeletal cross
travel the blue sky. He lets the kite climb,

the string connecting him to it
unwinding off the humming spool
into the long sag, excavating light.

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