Poems: Clyde Kessler

Illo for Clyde Kessler's poems.

Coal Holler’s Sky

The sky floats down Coal Holler
like a blue parachute ready to burn.
There’s a kid strung to it, bobbling
between clouds. She’s pushing lightning
scratched from sunrise. She’s yelling
because one monstrous stalled coal truck
looks like a dead metal eye, close enough
for an air strike, or a lightning bolt,
or for a pterodactyl to crunch in its jaws.
The sky keeps floating across Coal Holler.
The kid keeps floating nowhere in that sky.


I pinch the work of autumn from my nerves.
The migrant dunlin flock has already molted
into a mudflat where I am almost
a giant sandpiper collapsing into boots.
It has already dried up, this ocean
voiced against their wings. It has
already stolen their hungry bellies
from the sand. I’m starting to ramble,
making another helicopter throttle down,
making more recruits blind themselves with
triggers. The shorebirds shudder away
like camouflaged marines sucking raindrops
from Parris Island. I kneel down and keep
pinching the next war from inside my skin.
Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia, with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. Several years ago, they added an art studio to their house and named it Towhee Hill because towhees sing in the backyard. Clyde has published poems in many magazines, most recently in Juked, Gyroscope, Of/With, Mad Swirl, and Sacred Cow.

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