The Theater of the Skull:

by Jennifer Maloney

the holes
where the stones struck,
hammers cracked, oh, and                                   
the hollow—that arched
and inner screen,
where all the stories played.

Well-preserved wounds,
the archeologists coo, cradle and lift
bones to camera,
like proud parents.

Sometimes dead people talk to me
from the comments section.

Pop up in the Facebook feed,
ask questions,
tell jokes,
grin in last year’s photos:

here’s my new kitten
my happy husband

—stories and plays—
well-preserved wounds—

My skull, hollow, echoes.
A theatre, built with special attention
to acoustics, sight lines.
Lean an ear against the unhealed breaks,
through the ancient hammer holes.
Put your fingers in them,

if you doubt me.

Jennifer Maloney is a writer living and working in Rochester, NY. She is a past president of Just Poets, Inc., an 18-year-old poetry organization based in that city. Find Jennifer’s work in literary publications such as,, MemoryHouse Magazine, Ghost City Press, Panoply Zine and several others. She has also been anthologized in A Flash of Dark, volumes 2 and 3 (The Writer’s Den, 2018 and 2019), ImageOutWrite, volumes 7 and 8 (2018 and 2019), and the Poets Speak…While We Still Can anthology series from Beatlick Press/Jules’ Poetry Playhouse, volumes Walls and Survival. Jennifer is co-editor of the anthology Moving Images: Poetry Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series, 2021). She is also a parent and a partner, and she is grateful. For all of it. Always.