Two Poems by Clyde Kessler

Landing in Chisana

 

Chisana is a lost ghost town.

Even the ghosts have disappeared.

Spruce trees crack against starlight

and something jostles an owl from a limb.

 

A few cabins stare at me as if grousing,

long-dead gold-rushers scrape moose-hides

for a last fool’s meal, and they can still chink

drunk ballads through their jawbones.

 

It’s a great night for an alien craft to drag a fire

through Chisana. Great night for my snow-tow

to break through creek ice. Great dark half-year

for me to start laughing, Chisana’s all blind.

 

Burning the Sorghum Patch

 

We burnt the moldy sorghum stalks

to kill the spores, and to rescue the next

planting. Crows perched on spindly sumac,

or on fence posts. A few were circling

through the smoke, and one of them eased

down and beaked a lizard near the fire.

 

“Ain’t worth a cob,” my father said.

I thought it wasn’t worth a poem, either.

Now forty-three years later, the moldy stalks

chase my words. I listen to some crows cawing

at snow. One of them scratches into the snow,

pulls out a mouse, and tears into it. This is

at sunrise, other things keep tearing into the words.

 

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