Clyde Kessler

Done Fiddled


Steer your crooked fiddle in a circle

back to home, warp it with daddy

and mama hawking albums at church

like you seeing a chicken brood itself

from snow. Catch it sung to a cloud.


Tune it down the coal road for sleep.

All the worn out mines, they watch you

from stoves. All the singing at night

slaps you awake when a sadness

fits the bar lot like your shadow.


I sang like you. I tuned up the ground

so it lives. I pictured it with redbirds

and wild bears on calendars and trays

in a trinket store. I kept poverty

as happy as a new law kinked on God.


 Emmit Hawby


It is January 7th.

The river bank is slick froze.

The box elders are twenty snags.

A crow flock shrugs into some pines

and each crow growls there. Maybe

the old red-tailed hawk is caught

in their minds, maybe a sharpie shrills

into the dark limbs then dissolves.


Emmit’s muskrat traps are empty.

And he’s left his one beer on the car hood

and Denny Hale’s slugged it dry.

We laugh at the boat landing, how cold

the day begins, how slow we look

at nothing else except a swamped boat

nudged across some icy stumps

and Emmit staring at Denny staring at dirt.


Something Like a War Raven


A raven snored in a cage.

Fireplace smoke slipped through its wing feathers

and fit the old mind to a cliff by the Potomac

where raven cries still moved inside the stone

and there were spleen ferns that reached in close

and mocked its voice where it dreamed.


I could almost ask while the raven slept,

if there was land in its shadow when it flew last year,

or if there was a midday fire long ago on a johnboat

while its ancestors glided among the buzzards

circling past White’s Ford. The hungriest thing

was its mind floating loose from all my words.

I knew its hunger had followed the cage.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He has had poems published recently in Cortland Review, Silver Blade, Metazen, Rose Red, and Now and Then. He is a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization with projects in southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina.

Posted on July 7, 2014 .