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The Skeletons in Your Closet
Joan Wiese Johannes


Every time you leave the house,
the skeletons in your closet
dress up in your clothes.
The oldest zips too-tight silk
capris over her fleshless thighs
and slides her metatarsals
into gold, spike heels.
The youngest dips phalanges
into the pockets
of your vintage blazer.
Its padded shoulders define
her clothes hanger frame
as she executes a run-way turn.
The skeleton you want to forget
slips into the satin night gown
that sinks into her pelvic bowl.
The rest of them stand restlessly
waiting to cover wild bones
with the coyote jacket
you have never worn.
They like to pretend
they are hunting rabbits,
snapping their yellow teeth,
and laughing at themselves
and at these clothes that remind
them of what they are
and remind you of who you were.

This poem first appeared in California Quarterly.
Used here with permission.


Joan Wiese Johannes is retired from a rewarding and challenging career as an English teacher. The author of several poetry collections, she also composes music for Native American-style flute and includes it with her poetry readings. Joan believes that Thornton Wilder was right when he wrote that "only poets and saints truly appreciate life while they are living it." Hardly a saint, Joan appreciates the life she shares with her poet/artist husband, Jeffrey, in Port Edwards, Wisconsin. Learn more about her at



Post New Comment:
I could SEE that happening! ;-)
Posted 11/02/2020 09:23 AM
Just luv this!!! Clever but also well written and with a terrific last line!! Bravo!!
Posted 11/01/2020 07:21 PM
Love it!!!
Posted 11/01/2020 06:44 PM
Oh Boy ...I am going to have all sorts of fantasies about the skeletons in MY closet! Best treat for Halloween this poem.
Posted 11/01/2020 06:16 PM
Maryann Hurtt:
Think I will check my closet every time I come home now...thanks for the fun poem, Joan!
Posted 11/01/2020 05:20 PM
Janet Leahy:
OK, this poem reminds me it is time to clean out my closet, the vintage blazer, the jacket never worn and more, great poem for the season.
Posted 11/01/2020 05:17 PM
Vividly descriptive and so creative
Posted 11/01/2020 03:52 PM
Jean Colonomos-1:
Such fun. Love the phrase, "pelvic bowl."
Posted 11/01/2020 02:15 PM
Fun Poem, Joan! _DorisBeio
Posted 11/01/2020 02:07 PM
This is great! I love all the different descriptions.
Posted 11/01/2020 01:33 PM
Stephen Anderson:
Love it, Joan!
Posted 11/01/2020 01:25 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
So glad to see YDP back up and running after the power outage. The Skeletons in Your Closet is the perfect poem for Halloween. Joan, I love how you used your imagination and turned an old saying into a clever humorous poem about aging and how we still keep clothes in our closet we can no longer fit in. I think all of us can relate.
Posted 11/01/2020 01:20 PM

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