Literary Orphans

Three Poems by Clyde Kessler



Death tries to carry you home

maybe with a glacier to heaven

maybe with hell itself melting,

yet never with remembrance.


Ask a caribou for a language

beyond its heart. There’s its hide

all silent, something a child wears

to scratch a window into the ground.


Ask the ground to whisper up

the effort, for you the skull-shaped

vocabulary, copping forth lightning

and hunger. Always mistranslated.


O Typekey Divider


The only house left on this road

is being swallowed. Maybe it’s the kudzu,

maybe it’s the karst, maybe the fire-coals.


Maybe there’s a chainsaw clawing

a stratus cloud through a window, a child

who smiles with glass sharding a field.


Maybe our old parents coat themselves

with doors that won’t open. Maybe yellow-

headed blackbirds swizzle a rotting roof.


It can’t really be the only house. How real

is real estate, that last place waiting? That

foggy grin in a side mirror posing for a road?


O Typekey Divider


We won’t find a warbler

under our house where it might

laugh like a bowl full of feathers

chasing a pipe of copper mold

toward music. If there’s a song,

there’s its darkness to forget.


All this means I can’t wake.

My father rides a pulley rope

to lift a wall in place. I sleep

and he tells me it’s finally placed

like bamboo sprouting with snow.

If I wake, I’ll look up into bamboo.

O Typekey Divider

Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. In 2017, Cedar Creek published his book of poems Fiddling At Midnight’s Farmhouse, which Kendall illustrated.

\O Typekey Divider

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