AT THE PRIMITIVE CAMPGROUND IN THE GORGE
A ghost cannot gather itself
inside a tree, or a peregrine,
or a creek, or heaven. It cannot
draw stars through the window
of a building in Beijing, or
on a cabin near Woolwine with
spring peepers chorusing music
to fit the sky. It cannot revive
its mind in a trout lily, as much
as I wish. I can’t tell it my name.
I can’t share one flapjack, smoke,
or a sip of bootleg. I rummage
in a poke of cornmeal, and ask
hungry? The campfire won’t say.
TELLING LIES ALONG THE MONKEY RIVER
Clouds tease my boat down the Monkey River.
The sun slips past me with a jabiru on a mudflat.
I enjoy every lie I tell. One of them is a boat,
and another is Monkey River, and one more
is this jabiru staring at me, owning the river,
placing the sun in its wings, because my camera
is also telling lies, and focuses only on muddy water.
The shore looks like a snakeskin waiting for moonlight.
The sun is setting. A trillion gnats are swizzling the air,
and more than a few are biting me. One has crawled
inside the camera lens. It moves like an alien full of legs.
Its wings are minuscule, with teetery, branching veins.
It tells me how it lives, which is always a lie, since it lives
where I live, floating in Belize, floating in a cloud.
THE YOUNG CHILD’S BREAKFAST
The skin is clayed into ochre.
The eyes are knitted into flowers.
One toe glistens with a star,
the other toes fetch more dust,
lightning. The face pretends smoke
is an angel, a wall, or a lost kid
stacking kindling under a bridge
perhaps west of Nairobi, where
the ambassador’s mother is singing
to every antelope in Kenya. The song
is so old she begins to hear her family
echoing the chatter of green and yellow
sunbirds rising from flowers. Her eldest
is busy negotiating another trade deal
beyond the song’s words. Her youngest
is somewhere else, perhaps under
a new bridge scarfing a stolen egg,
or swearing at bees hiving without honey.
Copyright© 2018 by Clyde Kessler. All Rights Reserved.
Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. In 2017 Cedar Creek published his book of poems Fiddling At Midnight’s Farmhouse, illustrated by his wife.